According to the Japanese carmaker, it believes that “interactions between drivers and cars should mirror those between close friends who share a common purpose, sometimes watching over each other and sometimes helping each other out”, which is refers to as the Mobility Teammate Concept, and the Highway Teammate test vehicle is its first step to develop the concept.
Like Audi’s A7 piloted driving concept, the test vehicle is based on an existing vehicle found in Toyota’s luxury brand lineup. In this case, a standard Lexus GS is modified to be fitted with various sensors that powers its automated driving capabilities. This includes a milimeter wave radar, video cameras, and LIDAR, each cleverly tucked away to make the car nearly indistinguishable from a standard GS.
The systems work together and enables the Highway Teammate’s automated driving on highways from the on-ramp all the way through to the off-ramp. On-board technology is used to evaluate traffic conditions, make choices, and take action during highway driving. Manoeuvres including merging onto or exiting highways, maintaining or changing lanes, and maintaining inter-vehicle distances, are all within the capabilities of the test vehicle.
After passing through a toll gate, the driver can engage the system, where the Highway Teammate employs its external sensors to pinpoint its position with the aid of highly accurate road map data. The sensors also enable it to identify nearby vehicles and hazards, allowing it to select appropriate routes and lanes depending on the destination. It then executes its calculated move by operating the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes.
Highway Teammate is a culmination of Toyota’s automated driving technologies that has been researched and developed since the 1990s. It’s also a part of Toyota’s Mobility Teammate Concept where three types of intelligence are considered crucial to its success – Driving Intelligence (advanced recognition and predictive decision-making functions), Connected Intelligence (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication), and Interactive Intelligence (recognition of driver status, transfer of control between driver and car, etc.).
By 2020, Toyota aims to launch products which are based on the technologies developed on the Highway Teammate.