Toyota’s conclusion after more than two decades of research on autonomous and automated driving is that the driver must remain the most important decision-maker in the car.
It’s an interesting point of view that leaves room for interpretation on the degree of autonomous driving future Toyota vehicles will have. The Japanese company seems to go against the tide on this issue, as its rivals are determined to bring self-driving vehicles to the streets by 2020.
“We believe that it should be the driver that is at the center; the driver should take the initiatives,” Toyota’s managing officer for vehicle control systems, Moritaka Yoshida, told Autonews Europe. “Think about airplanes. They have an autopilot, but when it comes to important operations, the pilot will always take over and the system will support the pilot’s maneuvers. So the same with the cars, the driver should be at the center,” Yoshida added.
The executive said Toyota’s research in the field will continue at a “very high level”, with the very significant distinction however – the company will offer automated, not autonomous, driving systems. It’s a very different strategy than Google’s, which promises to bring autonomous driving technology to the market within five years.
By 2020, Daimler and Nissan said they will offer autonomous cars, while GM said its cars will have a self-driving feature that can be switched on and off. However, GM doesn’t expect fully driverless cars to be a reality “for many years to come”, according to Michael Robinson, a GM vice president who oversees global regulatory issues.
Let’s just hope that when autonomous cars do become a reality for the consumer, they don’t have any…electric/software glitches.
By Dan Mihalascu