Toyota has revealed Tuesday its intentions to take on Google and other Silicon Valley giants in the self-driving car race with its goal of launching its first autonomous vehicle by 2020.
The Japanese automaker is working on technology that allows for "automated driving," or the opportunity for cars to get on and off highways and change lanes without any help from the driver, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company previously referred to such technology as "advanced driver support."
"We were afraid that by using the term 'automated driving,' people would misunderstand that humans are not involved at all," said Masahiro Iwasaki, an engineer involved in developing autonomous technology.
Toyota's driverless car prototypes, one of which is named "Highway Teammate," are not intended to replace human drivers, but rather to assist them in more challenging situations, IEEE Spectrum reported.
The Teammate's on-board equipment will allow it to understand traffic conditions and make decisions for when to change lanes, merge and keep its distance from other vehicles, Wired noted.
Toyota still has a long way to go before its fully autonomous vehicles hits the market, not just with the improvement in the technology, but with costs as well, as officials say that the current price of self-driving sensors presents an obstacle, IEEE Spectrum reported.
However, Toyota still plans on making its self-driving car a reality by investing in talent and resources involved in robotics and artificial intelligence. Such investments include the hiring of Gill Pratt, a former manager for the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency, and working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to create A.I.s.