This past week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand gave the public its first look at Toyota’s advanced active safety research vehicle (AASRV). According to Toyota officials, the AASRV is designed to test and demonstrate a variety of automated vehicle safety technologies that Toyota could use in production vehicles in the near future.
The concept behind the AASRV is to view traffic safety as a “holistic blend” of people, vehicles, and the driving environment. “In our pursuit of developing more advanced automated technologies, we believe the driver must be fully engaged,” explained Mark Templin, the general manager of the Lexus brand. Templin said that a driverless car is just a part of this story. “Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.” Unlike some prototypes, the AASRV is not designed to operate with complete driver independence. Rather, Templin stressed that the technology used in the AASRV is designed to act as a back-up to the driver that both engages and enhances a driver’s skills.
The AASRV can spot a potential danger 500 feet away and differentiate between a red and green traffic light. It can also anticipate a corner even before the driver begins turning the steering wheel. While the AASRV is designed to prevent a crash, it can also make it easier for a driver to survive a car accident as it automatically calls for help following a collision. The safety vehicle incorporates a wide range of technologies to monitor what is going on both on the road and inside of the car, including: a roof-mounted, 360 degree laser that can detect obstacles and other objects up to 230 feet away; three high-definition cameras capable of spotting obstacles and reading traffic lights up to 500 feet away; front and side-mounted radar to create a field of vision around the vehicle; an inertial measurement system that can determine how the vehicle is behaving; and GPS antennas on the roof to help the onboard navigation system compare the vehicle’s motion to the road itself.
According to Toyota and Lexus officials, the AASRV will participate in smart car research that could soon find vehicles communicating with a smart roadway infrastructure and with each other. This could lead to the reduction in the probability of collisions at blind intersections while also alerting motorists to problems ahead.