Speaking to the Automotive News World Congress on Tuesday, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz said the automaker doesn’t plan on making fully autonomous vehicles any time soon.
“We don’t see a day coming soon when you’ll just hop in the back seat, open the newspaper and scan the headlines while the car drives you to work,” Lentz said. “Instead our focus is on building cars that can actually enhance a driver’s operation of the vehicle while helping to reduce or mitigate serious and fatal accidents.”
So, how does that “driver’s” Toyota Camry sound?
Lentz said the automaker’s plan was to provide systems that work together with drivers to improve safety — not just simply take over.
The plan would partially solve the liability question for automakers as cars become more self-sufficient. Clearly, the world’s largest automaker in 2015 wouldn’t be all that jazzed to take responsibility for millions of self-driving cars in the future, so it’s best to leave people in charge of their own destinies — insurance-wise, at least — for the near term.
It also shows that the world’s largest automaker is willing to go a little upstream — or at least fight the current — against the wave of self-driving tech rolling onto the market. It’s a seismic shift against convention, for now.
“We believe a car and driver can work together to increase both vehicle safety and the joy of driving,” Lentz said.
To that end, the company will be ramping up active systems on their cars such as Toyota’s Safety Sense Plus, which includes front- and rear-collision mitigation, lane-keep assistance and pedestrian safety systems.