By on January 4, 2018

TRI Platform_3.0 autonomous Lexus

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.

TRI Platform_3.0 autonomous Lexus

“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.

TRI Platform_3.0 autonomous Lexus

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.”

TRI Platform_3.0 autonomous Lexus

[Images: Toyota Research Institute]

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10 Comments on “Determined to Look Cutting Edge, Toyota’s Bringing Its Best Tech to CES...”

  • avatar

    It’s still hard to see how any of these sensors are going to work in the kind of weather we’ve been having in the Midwest the past couple of weeks. Salt and packed show is going to obscure sensor capabilities beyond functionality.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re either counting on global warming to get rid of snow, or they’ll make snow illegal to accommodate banning non-autonomous cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      You can only buy and operate these cars in southern states or northern states in spring and summer months. Didn’t you read the disclosure?

      • 0 avatar

        Interestingly the Minnesota transit system is testing autonomous buses this winter. They specifically want to see how they do with snow, ice, and road grime. I’m sure there will be challenges, but they won’t get better unless they try. I’m curious to see how it goes.

    • 0 avatar

      Cruise control is a useful feature, even though there are times and places where it doesn’t do much good. Other driving aids are no different. The fact that they haven’t yet been able to land him on Mars, doesn’t mean Musk’s SpaceX rockets aren’t useful for something.

    • 0 avatar

      Even their simple sensors give up already — if you drive in the snow for more than 10 mins or so it says ‘PCS unavailable’ and disables pre-collision because the radar sensor can’t figure out what is going on.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    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.

  • avatar

    Camper top by VW.

    And that last photo–that’s right out of the final season of Knight Rider.

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