Toyota’s new autonomous car, also known as the Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle, claims to make driving a lot safer. Toyota unveiled this automated car at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. This driverless vehicle is fully equipped with sensors and automated control systems. These features enable the vehicle to make observations and then process them to respond accordingly to its surroundings. It all began with cars that assisted in parallel parking, and went on to cars that could navigate through traffic. Now it is not even necessary to be in the car while the car gets parked automatically.
This robotic car uses technologies like GPS, stereoscopic cameras, radar and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). These make the car capable of driver-free monitoring, thus it is informally named driverless or self driving car.
These devices perform the following functions:
a) The high definition cameras: detect objects in front of and on each side of the vehicle up to 500ft. away. Also, they can ‘read’ and identify a green light from a red traffic light.
b) 360 degree LIDAR: detects objects up to a distance of 200ft and gives a 360 degree view of these objects.
c) Three radar units: these front and side radars enhance the vehicle’s awareness and help detect cars at intersections.
d) GPS: estimates the car’s orientation and helps the car place itself in the real world even before it starts moving.
The sensory information thus obtained is interpreted and understood by the advanced control system to figure out the appropriate or best suited paths for navigation. The advanced control system is also capable of recognizing obstacles. This makes the system extremely reliable and secure. Along with this, autonomous cars also update their maps accordingly and regularly to find their way through completely new environments.
Key areas of monitoring are:
a) Cars start-up and drive off.
b) Avoidance of accidents and crashes using active safety systems.
c) Collision preparation using pre crash systems.
d) Survival of occupants at if collision occurs using passive safety.
e) Rescue and immediate response after crash.
Autonomous vehicles are anticipated to have the following benefits over traditional cars:
a) The reduced reaction time and increased reliability would result in fewer road accidents. Also, the safety gaps required would be reduced and so would the traffic congestion.
b) Fuel efficiency would improve.
c) The problem of scare parking space could be overcome.
d) Higher speed limits.
e) Reduction in need to traffic police and vehicle insurance.
Even though these robotic cars seem to be the perfect replacement of traditional human driven cars, yet it must be understood that it is absolutely necessary for the driver to be involved in operating the car at all times. A driverless car is only part of the entire story for Lexus and the main goal is to design a car that has an intelligent co pilot that is always attentive, thus reducing risks and contributing to safe driving.