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.