LAS VEGAS (Jan. 7, 2019) – Toyota is doubling-down on humans.  That’s the answer to the question; What has the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) been doing in automated driving over the past 12 months?  Using onboard cameras, sensors and 3D animation, TRI opened its portion of a press conference today at the annual CES show in Las Vegas with a vivid reenactment of a three-car crash on a California interstate, where no one was injured.
 
“We know what happened because we were there, in the thick of it,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and  Toyota Motor Corporation Fellow.  “Our test vehicle was traveling at freeway speed in manual mode with its autonomy mode disabled as it gathered data at the many tunnels and bridges in the San Francisco Bay area. As we downloaded data from the incident,  we asked ourselves; Could this crash have been mitigated, or avoided altogether by a future Toyota Guardian automated safety system? We believe the answer is yes.”
 
From its beginning three years ago, TRI has been committed to a two-track development approach to automated driving.  Its on-going Chauffeur development focuses on full autonomy, where the human is essentially removed from the driving equation, either completely in all environments, or within a restricted operational design domain (ODD).  Toyota Guardian, on the other hand, is being developed to amplify human control of the vehicle, not replace it.  With Toyota Guardian, the driver is meant to be in control of the car at all times, except in those cases where it anticipates or identifies a pending incident and employs a corrective response in coordination with driver input.
 
One of TRI ’s most significant breakthroughs this year was the creation of blended envelope control where Guardian combines and coordinates the skills and strengths of the human and the machine.  The system was inspired and informed by the way that modern fighter jets are flown, where you have a pilot that flies the stick, but actually, they don't fly the plane directly. Instead, their intent is translated by the low-level flight control system, thousands of times a second to stabilize the aircraft and stay within a specific safety envelope
 
The big idea is that this control envelope is not a discrete on-off switch between the human and the autonomy.  It's really a near-seamless blend of both, working as teammates to extract the best input from each.

Read more about Toyota's breakthroughs in autonomous technology on Toyota.com