Toyota has stated it will be selling cars that can drive themselves by 2020. The leading Japanese auto-maker says some of its models will be able to do basic motorway driving functions and motorists will be able sit back and enjoy the ride.
At a media briefing yesterday, Toyota said the vehicles will at first be introduced to Japanese motorists. The vehicles will incorporate single-switch technology that will allow the person behind the wheel to engage or disengage auto-pilot with the minimum of hassle.
The vehicles will be able to merge with other traffic, switch lanes and overtake without any driver intervention. To show its seriousness on pioneering self-drive cars, Toyota staged a demonstration on a Tokyo road.
The company used a prototype Lexus in the exhibition and all the driver did during the 10-minute trip was turn on the auto-drive. The car stayed under the speed limit of 60kpm (37mph) for the duration of the journey.
The car was able to steer, change lanes and slow down and all the driver did was sit there. Toyota has labelled the technology the mobility teammate concept and it basically works on sensors that assess traffic and obstacles around the car.
Toyota’s aim of inaugurating auto-function cars is in line with the Japanese government’s target of having the technology ready to showcase in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Toyota designers have been toying with the concept for 20 years and safety boss Moritaka Yoshida says it will provide more freedom for disabled and older people.