Toyota Research Institute, the Silicon Valley-based arm of the biggest car maker in the world, just unveiled the latest version of its test vehicle. The vehicle — a Lexus LS 600hL test vehicle equipped with LIDAR, radar, and camera arrays — is an iterative improvement on the vehicle Toyota showed off twice last year. (The institute is calling this one Platform 3.0.) The car will be on display at CES in Las Vegas next week. The biggest improvement over previous versions of Toyota’s autonomous research vehicles is the ability to “see” farther in every direction. Thanks to four long-range LIDAR sensors attached to its roof, manufactured by
Toyota’s car also has a new and improved look, with a more seamless integration of the cameras and sensor array into the vehicle’s design.
First, the vehicle now has 360-degree LiDAR sensing — previous platforms only had forward-facing LiDAR sensing capabilities — and new shorter-range LiDAR sensors placed lower to the ground allow for detection of smaller objects like road debris or children.
Secondly, Platform 3.0, built on a Lexus LS 600hL, will go into low-volume production this spring and will come in two versions. One will feature a dual cockpit design, allowing for TRI to experiment with methods that transfer driving control between humans and the automated system. It can also accommodate a backup safety driver. A second model will incorporate a single cockpit and will test TRI’s full automation technology. TRI says the production is intentionally low because the team keeps updating the technology so quickly. It just came out with Platform 2.0 in March and Platform 2.1 in September.