Skip to main content

Toyota rolls out an updated autonomous car prototype for CES 2019

Toyota will bring its latest prototype self-driving car to CES 2019. Code-named Platform 4.0 (or P4 for short), the car continues Toyota’s two-pronged approach to autonomous-driving tech, with systems designed to drive without human intervention, or to assist a human driver.

Like all previous Toyota autonomous prototypes, the P4 is based on the Lexus LS, flagship sedan of the Japanese automaker’s luxury brand. But where previous prototypes were based on older versions of the LS, the P4 is based on the recently introduced fifth-generation model. Engineers chose the LS 500h hybrid version because its onboard battery pack can be used to power the sensors and computers needed for autonomous driving. This is why other automakers and tech companies tend to choose hybrids or electric cars as test platforms for their autonomous-driving tech.

Related Videos

Toyota said the P4 has two additional cameras on the sides of the body, and two new imaging sensors — one facing forward, one facing rearward. The imaging sensors also feature new chip technology, and the onboard radar has been tweaked to allow a better field of view, according to Toyota. The lidar system, which includes eight scanners, carries over from the previous-generation test car.

It may be a prototype, but the P4 was designed to function like a normal car. As with its previous test cars, Toyota tried to integrate the sensors with the P4’s bodywork, rather than just tacking them on. But the hump on the roof and cutouts in the front fenders are dead giveaways. The trunk-mounted computer box (which is more powerful than before, according to Toyota) was also rejiggered to free up space for cargo.

Toyota is developing two autonomous-driving systems: “Chauffeur” and “Guardian.” As the name implies, Chauffeur handles all driving duties, completely removing human drivers from the equation. Guardian allows a human driver to maintain control, only providing assistance when deemed necessary.

The first P4 cars will join Toyota’s test fleet this spring. The Japanese automaker will also partner with Uber on self-driving cars. It will invest $500 million in the ridesharing company, and supply a fleet of Sienna minivans for joint testing. Toyota believes services like Uber will be the main users of autonomous cars, rather than individual owners.

Editors' Recommendations

Mercedes is finally bringing an electric van to the U.S.
Front three quarter view of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.

Mercedes-Benz might be known for luxury cars, but it also makes vans, and it's finally bringing an electric van to the United States.

Scheduled to start production this summer, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is an all-electric version of the Sprinter full-size cargo van that's already a favorite of delivery services like FedEx and Amazon, as well as camper van converters. While the automaker has been selling electric vans in Europe since 2010, the new eSprinter is the first one aimed at the U.S. market.

Read more
Audi ActiveSphere concept is part luxury sedan, part pickup truck
Audi ActiveSphere concept car in a mountainous setting with a bike on the rear rack.

Audi unveiled the fourth and final member of its Sphere-branded series of concept cars, and the design study is unlike anything we've seen before. Called ActiveSphere, it's an electric luxury sedan with a generous amount of ground clearance that can turn into a pickup truck.

Created at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, California, the ActiveSphere stretches approximately 196 inches long, 81 inches wide, and 63 inches tall, figures that make it about as long as the current-generation A6, 7 inches wider, and 6 inches taller. It wears a rounded exterior design characterized by thin headlights, a transparent piece of trim where you'd expect to find a grille, and a fastback-like silhouette.

Read more
2024 Polestar 2 gets a major overhaul for the 2024 model year
2024 Polestar 2

Volvo off-shoot Polestar is looking forward to an eventful year. It will begin production of the 3, its first crossover, and it will release a comprehensively updated version of the 2 sedan that's sportier than the outgoing model, more road trip-friendly, and better equipped.

The biggest visual difference between the original 2 and the new-look car due out in 2023 as a 2024 model is found on the front end. The electric sedan swaps its grille for what Polestar designers call a SmartZone that frames the front-facing camera and covers the mid-range radar used to power some of the electronic driving aids. While the shift isn't significant, it's symbolic. The grille created a visual link between the 2 and the 1, Polestar's now-retired first model; the SmartZone brings the sedan in line with the sleek-looking 3 unveiled in late 2022.

Read more