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

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]