Leave Jeeves At Home, Toyota And Lexus Are Developing A Chauffeur Mode

The Toyota Research Institute is returning to CES with an all-new automated driving test vehicle based on the Lexus LS.

Named the P4, the prototype is a high-tech vehicle which features autonomous driving technology. While that isn’t too uncommon these days, the P4 has been designed to assist in the development of two different automated driving technologies called Guardian and Chauffeur.

Guardian is the more basic of the two as it is designed to “amplify human performance behind the wheel, not replace it.” Toyota didn’t go into specifics, but it sounds like a semi-autonomous driving system with an assortment of driver assistance features.

Chauffeur mode, on the other hand, is significantly more advanced. As the name suggests, it’s focused on full autonomy where the driver is effectively replaced by a digital chauffeur. Toyota says this could occur in all environments or in “a restricted driving domain” such as a pre-mapped area.

Developing chauffeur mode on the Lexus LS isn’t just a subtle nod to the ultra-wealthy as Toyota says the model was selected for its new generation chassis and steering control technology.  The company says this provides “greater agility and allows for more responsive and smoother maneuvers during automated driving.”

Based on the experiences learned from the previous Platform 3.0 prototype, the P4 has a familiar LIDAR sensing system with eight scanning heads. It has been joined by two additional cameras and two new imaging sensors which face forward and backwards. Besides the extra cameras and sensors, the P4 has an improved radar system which has better close range detection.

Those aren’t the only improvements as the new prototype has more computing power than its predecessor. Toyota says this enables the system to process inputs faster, react more quickly and “operate more machine learning algorithms in parallel for faster learning.”

P4 prototypes will go into production this spring and Toyota will release additional information about its Guardian automated driving system on January 7th.


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  • Dude

    Very cool, though I hope to see prototypes with more integrated sensory tech soon. The cameras on top look kind of creepy up close

  • Look how Lexus added some chrome strips on the roof to make it look a little more appealing.

  • Hopefully you can still have the option to drive the car yourself, or will it be reserved to classic and sportscar only.

    • Mr. EP9

      I’m guessing the latter. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the law eventually mandates that they must have some EV conversion done to them which would destroy the value.

      • Dude

        In my state as long as a car is 25+ years old and stock you can get classic car certification. Then it doesn’t have to pass modern emission and safety tests. In MD and TN if the thing has wheels you can drive it. Even a tank (I’ve seen this)

        • I think EP9 thinks more of a Europe. Yes in country like UK you got exemption for Pre-73 vehicles from MoT and Tax. But EU proposed big city to banned combustion engine all together.

        • Mr. EP9

          I wonder if that would apply to a 1994 Lancer Evo II. It should be legal to import one of those things by now.

      • Probably only for city center, I assume countryside should be safe from those no emission zone like what EU wants. But I like the appeal that classic car is a form of tourism, like if you see them running around in London or Paris, it would make it like an experience and entice tourism. Hopefully they don’t move forward with full on no emission zone.

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