Toyota to launch driverless cars by 2020, unveils semi-automatic Lexus GS

By Money Times

Oct 07, 2015 12:18 AM EDT

Japanese automobile major Toyota Motor Corp is planning to launch driverless cars in the market by 2020. Toyota will launch three models in semi-automatic range this year in Japan market. The semi-automatic cars equipped with Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) are technology-driven vehicles that change lanes, merge with traffic or even overtake other vehicles. The fourth generation Prius hybrid car is one among the three semi-automatic models is scheduled for launch in Japan market in 2015.

Toyota launched self-driving car 'Lexus GS' on 6 October in Tokyo. Toyota semi-automatic cars can be put on auto-pilot mode and off the auto-pilot mode using just one switch. Recently launched Crown sedan is the world's first car to use ITS technology.  

Toyota is investing in research and technology (R&D). It's planning to invest $50million in developing artificial intelligence for its vehicles. Toyota has taken up a joint research initiative with Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The joint research activity will continue for next five years.

Global automobile conglomerate Toyota Motor Corp is in the process of catching up with the emerging trend of self-driving cars in the automobile industry. The Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) enables the new age cars ensure a lot of comfort on busy city roads or highways for drivers. The ITS facilitates communication from vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure to alert drivers about potential dangers in using the sensor technology.   

Meanwhile, Toyota launched its self-driving car on 6 October in Tokyo marking its entry into the world automated vehicles. The new self-driving car is a modified Lexus GS equipped with most advanced sensors for navigating on roads, changing lanes in city traffic and overtaking vehicles on highways.

Toyota Motor Corp is also planning to modify other existing models with self-drivingtechnology features over next five years when Japan will host Olympics.  Yoshida Moritaka, Chief Safety Technology Officer at Toyota, said after the launch of Lexus GS, that Toyota aims to launch modified models with self-driving features by 2020, the year of Olympics in Japan. 

The new model car will automatically switch over to fully automated mode as soon as it reaches less frenetic confining highway entry. "The self-driving car runs automatically from highway entrance to the exit," said Moritaka. Toyota hopes to make the cars totally driverless that ensure a lesser rate of accidents and congestion.

Keeping in view of the Olympics in 200, Japanese government is aiming at pioneering self-driving cars in the world. Toyota's latest unveiling of its new model with self-driving technology features is part of the Japanese government plans. Though Toyota has been working on self-driving technology concept way back from 1990, it has been very careful as there's general notion that driverless car is very dangerous and unrealistic.

Other automobile manufacturers have also started working on technology to develop self-driving vehicles. Google has already started testing its driverless vehicles in Silicon Valley. Nissan is also planning launch automated car by 2016.

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