Toyota says its researchers have programmed a vehicle to move autonomously around closed road obstacles, a premiere that the automaker said provides a preview of how autonomous driving systems can complement human driving in a closed lane. dangerous conditions.
The Toyota Research Institute has released a video showcasing the technology, which has been fitted to a Toyota Supra sports car that has been “customized for autonomous driving research,” according to a press release.
The car is shown floating autonomously around objects on the closed test track at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California.
Avinash Balachandran, senior manager of research on human-centered driving at TRI, said the “main goal” of the project was to learn more about how advanced technologies can “grow and amplify” human drivers.
“We look at how to control the car across the spectrum of its performance and then really build technologies that do not replace people, but rather incorporate the skills of expert drivers in the way ordinary drivers drive,” he said in the video.
The research comes as Toyota plans to launch an operating system in its vehicles by 2025, which would be able to manage autonomous driving.
A step forward for Toyota
The system, called Arenas, will be made available to affiliates like Subaru in the future, according to Reuters, which quoted a Nikkei report. It was not immediately clear whether Toyota has long-term plans to implement a version of TRI’s autonomous drifting system in its passenger vehicles in the coming years.
Such a development could be in a few years, as Supra has been tested with computer-controlled steering, acceleration, braking and transmission systems and modified with performance and safety systems similar to those used in the Formula Drift motorsport series. According to Toyota, the vehicle was programmed to know where the limits of the track and the obstacle are.
However, the development was a major breakthrough for Toyota researchers in their attempt to better understand the “full spectrum of vehicle performance,” the company said in a statement.
TRI said its software calculates a new trajectory for the vehicle every 20 seconds, allowing the vehicle to stay balanced as it moves around objects and makes turns. Given the complexity and difficulty of the drift, this is a major step forward, said Jonathan Goh, a researcher at TRI who is leading the project.
“When you drift, there’s a lot of force at play, and you have to really understand how every degree of steering angle slows down the car, or every additional throttle application rotates the car,” he said in the video. “Being able to cope with drifting requires you to be able to balance all these different goals to the best of your ability.”
TRI researchers are looking to develop a technology that can react quickly when a human-driven vehicle is in a dangerous situation, such as driving on black ice or the sudden appearance of an object on the road.
“We want cars to have the skills of an expert driver and be able to react directly to difficult situations, such as turning when you hit a piece of ice,” Goh said.
The discovery comes from a partnership between TRI and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab, which focuses on research into new active safety technologies.