Toyota Readies New Autonomous-Driving Development Car

Toyota Motor Corp. will unveil an updated research vehicle for advanced development of semi- and fully autonomous driving systems at next week’s CES electronics show in Las Vegas.

Developed by the carmaker’s Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the fourth-generation development car (TRI-P4) is based on the latest Lexus LS 500h hybrid sedan.

Toyota says the P4 benefits from Lexus’ latest chassis and steering control technology, which provides greater agility and allows for more responsive and smoother maneuvers during automated driving. The previous research vehicle rode on an earlier LS platform.

The P4 has greater computing power and the capability for faster learning, according to Toyota. As a result, the car’s computers can process sensor inputs faster and react more quickly to real-world situations.

The new vehicle also is fitted with additional cameras and a pair of imaging sensors (left). Radar has been optimized to improve the field of view, especially for close-range imaging. Toyota says the lidar carries over from the Platform 3.0 car but is modified to fit into the new LS 500h's design.

The hybrid car’s battery now serves as the main power source for the computer, which is housed in the trunk against the back of the rear seat. This allows for more usable trunk space than the previous design, in which the unit was mounted on the trunk floor, Toyota notes.

Toyota's Calty design research center in Ann Arbor, Mich., took the lead on the P4. The carmaker’s prototype development center in York Township, Mich., will transform stock Lexus LS 500h sedans into P4 test cars beginning this spring.