Published: November 02, 2015 | Tokyo
On a busy and traffic congested road, the new Lexus limousine comes as a breather for frequent drivers. The car is equipped with autonomous technology and makes use of camera, radar and lidar technologies to steer its way through the traffic.
Lidar bounces a laser beam off objects to work out distances and speeds. In this case its job is to measure the distance and closing speed of the cars in the adjacent lane and work out a safe time to merge.
Lexus parent company Toyota has used a fleet of vehicles equipped with a combination of small sensors, cameras and GPS units to automatically generate detailed 3D maps of the roads one is travelling on.
The readout on the centre screen shows exactly what the car is going to do, as well as displaying images of other cars it has detected in front and behind the car.
The readout tells when the car will merge and whether it will accelerate or brake sightly when it finds its place in the stream of traffic. It also shows whether it will need to accelerate to keep a safe distance from the car behind or brake to maintain the gap to the car in front.
In one corner of the display it shows a brake pedal, accelerator and steering wheel, with any throttle, brake or steering inputs highlighted in blue.
Eventually the car can navigate his way on to the freeway, change lanes back and forth, take exit roads and turn corners, all without any human intervention. Then once off the freeway, the machine tells the driver to take over the wheel again.
Although it can slow and speed up on the highway, it can’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop, although other existing technology, including automated city braking, would presumably take over.