Twenty years ago, the thought of an autonomous vehicle driving by itself was the stuff of science fiction and Hollywood. Now it seems that type of technology will be available for luxury cars in the not so distant future.
One such vehicle that could pave the way for autonomous driving is the P4, a highly-modified Lexus LS500 h that has been bestowed with cutting-edge self-driving systems. Built and developed by Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the high-tech sedan features the 'Guardian' and 'Chauffeur' systems that will aid the driver while in fully-autonomous driving mode.
“Our Chauffeur development is focused on full autonomy, where the human is essentially removed from the driving equation, either completely in all environments, or within a restricted driving domain. Guardian, on the other hand, is being designed to amplify human performance behind the wheel, not replace it. The introduction of the new P4 platform will help us accelerate the development of both tracks when it joins our fleet this spring,” said Ryan Eustice, senior vice president of automated driving at TRI.
Unlike a typical Lexus LS, the P4 benefits from two additional cameras that serve as the car's extra pair of eyes. It also gets front and rear imaging sensors, and an optimized radar system that constantly monitors the car's surroundings in order to detect objects, as well as pedestrians.
But perhaps the most important feature in the P4 is its upgraded computer found in the trunk. Compared to its predecessor (the P3), Lexus claims it has greater computing power, can handle more calculations, as well as manage tasks for faster learning. With it, the system can react more quickly to dangers or other real-word scenarios.
Apart from making its 'brain' more powerful, TRI also made the computer more compact in size. This allowed engineers to free up more trunk space at the back without heavily modifying the computer itself.
The P4 is set to join Toyota's growing fleet of automated fleet, but not before making its official debut at this year's CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, the P4 will also be appearing at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Toyota Motors North America's (TMNA) R&D Prototype Development Center in Michigan will start building the P4 prototypes from stock LS models some time in Q2.