Toyota’s ‘Highway Teammate’ is meant to help humans, not replace them

Toyota may not be the first carmaker to investigate autonomous vehicles, but it hopes to set itself apart with a different approach to automated driving. The company is testing a self-driving prototype on public roads in Tokyo not only to achieve parity with other carmakers, but also to demonstrate its different philosophy.

Called the “Highway Teammate,” the car is a modified Lexus GS that represents the first practical step toward the use of artificial intelligence discussed by Toyota when it announced a major research collaboration with MIT and Stanford last month. Toyota says the technologies being tested could be production-ready by 2020.

Toyota says the car has already been tested on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway in a series of trials covering functions like merging onto or exiting the highway, and maintaining or changing lanes. The driver can switch into automated mode only after passing through a toll gate and entering an on-ramp. The car uses detailed maps and its own sensors to orient itself, and keep track of everything around it.

While other carmakers and interests promoting self-driving cars sometimes emphasize removing humans from the loop, Toyota views automation as a partnership between people and machines. The company has hesitated to commit to fully-autonomous cars on a large scale, instead advocating intelligent systems to assist drivers, and fully automated vehicles for those who can’t drive, such as the elderly and the disabled.

To make this “Mobility Teammate Concept” possible, Toyota believes it will have to achieve a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Up to this point, the majority of self-driving cars rely purely on programmed responses, making them only as competent as the people writing the software. Toyota thinks it can leapfrog these systems by developing cars that can actually think for themselves.

Specifically, Toyota is looking to develop three types of vehicular “intelligence.” One area involves the ability to recognize a situation and make decisions, another involves communication with other cars and infrastructure, and a third involves interactions with the driver, including recognizing the driver’s condition and coordinating when responsibilities should be shifted between human and machine. 

Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Apple

Patent highlights Apple's sky-high ambitions for AirPower wireless charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Home Theater

Now-canceled ‘Daredevil’ was one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Netflix recently canceled Marvel's Daredevil just a month after the premiere of the show's third season, despite reports indicating that it was one of the service's most popular shows.
Cars

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.