[CES] Toyota's Autonomous Car Detects Obstacles With Laser Radar

Jan 8, 2013
Naoshige Shimizu, Nikkei Automotive Technology
A prototyped car featuring Toyota's automatic driving technologies
A prototyped car featuring Toyota's automatic driving technologies
[Click to enlarge image]
Mark Templin
Mark Templin
[Click to enlarge image]

Toyota Motor Corp announced a prototyped car featuring automatic driving technologies at CES 2013, a trade show about electronics.

The car can be driven without a driver and is currently being tested on public roads in, for example, Michigan, the US. In the test, a crew member rides on the car. The car was developed not for commercial purposes but for a research on safe driving technologies, Toyota said.

The announcement was made by Mark Templin, Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager, at a press conference that took place Jan 7, 2013 (local time). The car was prototyped based on the "LS" that has not been partially remodeled. Toyota equipped the car with many sensors including a laser radar, cameras, milliwave radars and GPS.

The laser radar, which was mounted on the ceiling of the car, is made by Velodyne Inc and can detect obstacles located up to about 70m away from the car (360°) by rotating a cylindrical sensor. It is also possible to detect obstacles located up to 150m away from the front and lateral sides of the car with multiple cameras as well as to determine the colors of traffic signals and read traffic signs.

Furthermore, equipped with multiple milliwave radars, the car can measure speeds relative to obstacles located to the front and sides of the car.

Toyota started the development of the prototype in 2008. At Tokyo Motor Show 2011, the company announced an autonomous vehicle based on the Prius. And, this time, it defined the prototype as an advanced version of the Prius-based car.

Currently, some companies including Google Inc are developing autonomous vehicles. And the cylindrical laser radar that Toyota employed this time seemed to be the same as that employed by Google for its prototype.