Toyota’s Platform 2.1 autonomous vehicle features two modes- Guardian and Chauffeur. (Image credit Toyota)

 

Last month Toyota unveiled its latest version of their autonomous vehicle- the Lexus-modified (600hL) Platform 2.1, which features better sensors, improved detection and a pair of steering wheels for better human control. The vehicle is a base for Toyota Research Institute’s autonomous research systems known as Guardian and Chauffeur, which provides increased navigation and safety aspects. Chauffeur is based on autonomous Level 4 driving (there are six altogether), which makes the vehicle highly autonomous- designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitors all roadway conditions, however it’s limited to the ODD (Operation Design Domain) and doesn’t cover all driving scenarios.

 

Guardian mode acts as it sounds- a driver-assist system that monitors the environment around the vehicle and alerting drivers when a hazard appears and assists with crash avoidance when necessary. Moreover, it monitors the driver’s eyes using an infrared sensor mounted on the dashboard to detect drowsiness and distraction and acts accordingly when adverse behavior is encountered.

 

As far as the dual steering wheels are concerned, the passenger side acts as a drive-by-wire system for acceleration and breaking as a method for transferring vehicle control between the human driver and autonomous system. Toyota successfully tested both systems on an enclosed track where they performed admirably, but although it was a great demonstration of proof-of-concept, the track doesn’t provide real-world scenarios, in fact, none of them do, but one of them does come close- California’s GoMentum Station.

 

GoMentum Station is known for tough, realistic driving conditions and offers 2,100 acres of testing ground with 19.6-miles of paved roads. (Image credit Wing via Wikimedia)

 

GoMentum Station (Concord Naval Weapons Station) is known for its tough, realistic conditions where automobile companies can test their autonomous vehicles without worrying about damaging property, as it’s a closed-off area boasting 5,000 acres with 19.6 miles of paved roadways. The Toyota Research Institute will use the grounds to further test their Platform 2.1 autonomous vehicle, which now includes a new LIDAR system for longer sensing ranges, a denser point-cloud for detecting the position of 3D objects and a larger FOV that’s dynamically configurable.

 

GoMentum’s grounds offer varied terrain and real-life infrastructure, complete with roads, bridges, tunnels, parking lots, and intersections- most everything encountered in cities and urban areas. TRI’s vice president of autonomous driving Ryan Eustice feels this enclosed testing area will help further Platform 2.1’s development stating, “The addition of GoMentum Station to TRI’s arsenal of automated vehicle test locations allows us to create hazardous driving scenarios for advancing capabilities of both Guardian and Chauffeur and further develop our technology.” That being said, Toyota still has a long way to go before their autonomous vehicles enter the market but this is an important first step as safety for drivers and pedestrians is paramount.

 

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