Lexus and its parent company Toyota are jumping into the self-driving car race. The company announced at CES 2013 that it's working on what it calls its Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle, which will serve as a launch pad for future autonomous vehicles.
The research vehicle is meant to demonstrate Lexus' and Toyota's vision for how autonomous vehicles will take shape. According to Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Mark Templin, the research vehicle serves to demonstrate Lexus' and Toyota's Integrated Safety Management Concept.
The research vehicle on display here at CES is outfitted with some of the latest autonomous vehicle technology, including advanced GPS, forward and side-mounted radars and HD cameras, 360-degree laser tracking, a gyroscope and accelerometer, as well as other equipment.
"Our goal is a system that constantly perceives, processes and responds to its surroundings, that scans the movement of objects around it, identifies a green light from a red light and measures the trajectory, roll, pitch and yaw of the vehicle as it steers, accelerates and brakes along the most efficient route to its programmed destination," Templin said.
While Lexus couldn't give any specifics on the research vehicle, it did show some clips of it running along a track without a driver behind the wheel.
Templin said Lexus' Integrated Safety Management Concept also calls for vehicles to collect information from traffic infrastructure, other vehicles and pedestrians in order to avoid collisions and traffic fatalities, Lexus' and Toyota's ultimate goal for the program.
In order to build consumer and governmental trust in the kind of autonomous future it sees, Lexus is taking what it calls a layered approach to automated vehicles. In other words, instead of trying to bring out a completely autonomous car all in one shot, the automaker is slowly introducing new and proven semi-autonomous vehicle technologies to its line of cars.
Ultimately, Lexus sees the future of autonomous cars not as one that takes the vehicle out of the driver's control, but rather one that gives the driver a greater understanding of his surroundings. From what we've seen here at CES 2013, the company is well on its way to that goal.