With busy roads, many pedestrians, a versatile infrastructure and large glass buildings, this environment poses a particular challenge for autonomous vehicles.
Anyone can participate directly in the field tests: Anyone who registers can be driven through the district in an autonomous car - but for legal reasons, there is always a safety driver present.
"We work closely with Toyota Motor Corporation's Advanced Research & Development department and Tokyo's Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), which is responsible for bringing the automated driving software to the public," says Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).
The P4 presented at CES 2019 earlier this year is based on the Lexus LS 500h luxury sedan. It will be used to develop and test the active "Guardian" safety systems, which monitor the driver and intervene only when necessary, as well as the autonomous "chauffeur" driving technologies. The P4 utilizes the latest LS chassis and steering technologies, which enable responsive and smooth maneuvering during automated driving.
Compared to the previous research vehicle, the P4 has additional cameras on the sides, two new image sensors facing forwards and backwards, and an optimized radar system. The greater computing power ensures that the systems can operate more machine algorithms in parallel and thus learn faster. The information from the sensors is processed more quickly so that the vehicle can react more quickly to its surroundings. The entire power for the computing system is taken from the hybrid battery, the 12 V battery serves only as a backup.
TRI has so far tested the P4 on its closed test track in the US state of Michigan. There, the special features of the Odaiba infrastructure, in which the P4 has to move autonomously, were recreated. Further tests of the P4 software will be carried out on the public roads in Odaiba and around the TRI research facilities in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and Los Altos (California). In addition, a Lexus LS in its series version, which has been expanded to include automated driving functions, is currently on defined routes in Brussels.
SAE level 4 is the second highest level of autonomous driving. The vehicle guidance is permanently taken over by the system. However, a driver is still on board and can be asked by the technology to take control of the vehicle. In the highest autonomy level 5, no driver - and therefore no steering wheel or pedals - is required.
While autonomy level 1 includes assistance systems such as distance and speed control, level 2 refers to semi-automated driving functions such as automatic acceleration, braking and lane keeping on the motorway. In autonomy level 3, the technology largely relieves the driver, who can deal with other things while driving. However, the driver must always be able to take control of the vehicle after a warning.