Determined to Look Cutting Edge, Toyota's Bringing Its Best Tech to CES

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Wanting to remind the world that it’s not as far behind in the race toward autonomy as some have claimed, the Toyota Research Institute intends to bring a Lexus LS 600hL equipped with its 3.0 autonomous research platform to CES next week. Toyota introduced the platform 2.0 last March — the first autonomous testing platform developed entirely by TRI.

Since then, the automaker has focused heavily on machine vision and machine learning, leaning on all the popular sensing equipment currently synonymous with autonomous technologies. As the system was designed specifically to improve over time, version 3.0 uses a Luminar LIDAR system with a 200-meter sensor range that covers a 360-degree perimeter of the vehicle. The testbed Lexus is also equipped with shorter-range sensors, which are placed low on all four sides of the vehicle and are meant to spot low-level and smaller objects.

“The message is, we’re moving at a very rapid pace, and we’re quickly developing,” Toyota spokesman Rick Bourgoise told Automotive News. “It’s not a matter of how long — it’s how quickly are we advancing our capabilities, technology and design.”

TRI says it expects an extremely limited production run to begin this spring at its Prototype Development Center near Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It’s intentionally low volume because of the pace at which we’re accelerating and rapidly advancing,” Bourgoise said. “It doesn’t make sense for us to make a large number of test vehicles when we know we’re quickly advancing.”

All units will begin their lives as stock Lexus LS models.

Platform 3.0 not only represents a leap forward in terms of bringing Toyota closer to rivals’ hardware, it also incorporates the units design more seamlessly. Gone is the massive sensor array you frequently see atop autonomous test vehicles, replaced by a comparatively sleek roof-rack.

“Automotive designers’ roles have been pivoting toward thinking deeper and greater on how to design and apply automated driving technology for drivers and passengers,” said Scott Roller, Senior Lead Designer at CALTY Design Research who worked on the project. “It’s exciting to integrate the components in harmony with the car’s design.”

[Images: Toyota Research Institute]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Jeremiah Mckenna Jeremiah Mckenna on Jan 04, 2018

    I don't know why they need the Tron esque stickers on the sides of the doors and fenders. We get that there are a lot of electronic sensors on the car.

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    • Jeremiah Mckenna Jeremiah Mckenna on Jan 04, 2018

      @pheanix Stickers resembling a circuit board, edgy? By the way, have you seen the new Corolla, C-HR, Prius, Mirai and of course Camry? Pretty edgy.

  • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Jan 04, 2018

    Camper top by VW. And that last photo--that's right out of the final season of Knight Rider.

  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).