Toyota Motor Corp. and Audi AG are demonstrating active safety technologies that could one day serve as building blocks for the emergence of driverless vehicles.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, the two automakers are showing off vehicles arrayed with sensors and automated control systems that make it possible for cars to observe their own surroundings. Audi is even showcasing a "piloted driving system" that helps drivers steer a car in congested traffic speeds up to 37mp/h (60km/h). The technology also enables vehicles to accelerate, brake, and park by themselves.
The Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak vehicle -- co-developed by Audi, Volkswagen, and Stanford University -- autonomously completed the 12.42-mile Pikes Peak circuit in 27 minutes in 2010.
(Source: Audi AG)
"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," said Mark Templin, Lexus Group vice president and general manager, in a prepared statement at a CES press conference on Monday.
Although most automakers are still hesitant to talk about it, the goal also involves the eventual development of driverless vehicles. This week, Audi said that the state of Nevada issued the company a license to allow testing of autonomous vehicles on its public roads. Audi, along with Google Inc., are the only two companies to receive such a license. Audi's licensing follows on the heels of a September announcement by the State of California that it, too, is allowing the testing of self-driving cars on its roads.
At CES, Toyota is demonstrating a multitude of technologies that could one day form the foundation for such autonomous driving. The giant automaker is showing off a Lexus vehicle equipped with 360-degree LIDAR (light detection and ranging) laser, which can detect objects as far away as 70 meters, on its roof. It also employs three high-definition color cameras that can detect objects 150 meters away, radars on its front bumper and sides, a distance measurement indicator, inertial measurement units on the roof, and GPS antennae.