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Toyota’s latest autonomous driving testbed is a Lexus

Toyota Research Institute P4 to test future self-driving systems

Updated

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Toyota is continuing its autonomous driving research with a brand new vehicle, the TRI-P4 (Toyota Research Institute Platform 4.0). Introduced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, the vehicle will be testing Toyota Research Institute’s (TRI) Guardian and Chauffeur automated driving system programs.

The P4 is based on the all-new fifth-generation Lexus LS flagship sedan. It benefits from Lexus’ new generation of chassis and steering control technology, which provides greater agility and allows for more responsive and smoother maneuvers during automated driving.

The P4 is a much smarter research vehicle than its predecessor. With greater computing power, its systems can operate more machine learning algorithms in parallel for faster learning. It can process sensor inputs faster and react more quickly to the surrounding environment. All computing system power is now drawn from the vehicle’s hybrid battery with the 12v battery now serving only as a backup.

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The vehicle has more cameras to improve situational awareness on the sides and two new imaging sensors―one facing forward and one pointed to the rear―specifically designed for autonomous vehicles. The imaging sensors feature new chip technology with high dynamic range. The radar system has been optimized to improve the field of view, especially for close range detection around the vehicle perimeter. The LIDAR sensing system, with eight scanning heads, carries over from the previous test model, Platform 3.0, and morphs into the new vehicle design.

The compute box in the trunk, which serves as the “brain” of the automated driving system, has been reimagined. It is now tucked vertically against the rear seat transom, folding down to access the circuitry. This frees up the entire floor of the trunk for hauling cargo.

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“Our Chauffeur development is focused on full autonomy, where the human is essentially removed from the driving equation, either completely in all environments, or within a restricted driving domain,” said Ryan Eustice, senior vice president of automated driving at TRI. “Guardian, on the other hand, is being designed to amplify human performance behind the wheel, not replace it. The introduction of the new P4 platform will help us accelerate the development of both tracks when it joins our fleet this spring.”

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