Toyota Plans To Pursue Next Gen 'Self Driving Cars'

Sep 05, 2016 05:27 AM EDT | Jomar Teves

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At first, your Toyota will be your protector. Then it will be your personal driver.Ryan Eustice, a recently employed self-ruling driving master at Toyota Motor Corp., says the company's first self-driving cars will arrive in five to 10 years - in that way and in aspecific order.

The rollout is being taken care of through two projects established this year under the Japanese carmaker's recently made, U.S.- based Toyota Research Institute Inc., a $1 billion effort charged of creating artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.

The first project, code-named Guardian, will develop a cutting edge driver-assist safety frameworks and is being driven out of Toyota Research Institute's lab in Cambridge, Mass. The second, project Chauffeur, plans to develop genuinely driverless cars out of the institute's office in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Directing both are Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson, two University of Michigan professors hired to lead the world's greatest automaker into self-sustaining driving. The objective is a purported Level 4 self-sufficient vehicle - a car that is able to drive itself anywhere, anytime, under any weather situation, while the human sits back, uninvolved.

Toyota's first applications of Level 4 autonomous driving will be "geofenced," said Eustice, who, with Olson, is co-director of Toyota's autonomous driving system. That implies that the cars will be completely self-driving yet in limited regions, for example, interstate expressways.

"In reality, I don't think anybody is going to launch a product and say on day one it will be Level 4 everywhere," Eustice said in an August interview. "That is a monumental goal. Geofenced Level 4 Toyotas, however, are just five to 10 years away. Traditionally, a carmaker would work with different suppliers to source components and systems. But Toyota's new model is to integrate that technology in-house," Eustice said.

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