Toy­ota de­tails au­ton­o­mous plans

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Toy­ota will launch its first elec­tric ve­hi­cle in part­ner­ship with Mazda by the early 2020s, while the re­lease of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nol­ogy for free­way use will co­in­cide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which are spon­sored by the Ja­panese auto gi­ant.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence at the Tokyo mo­tor show last week, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent Di­dier Leroy claimed the Ja­panese car-maker’s vast ex­pe­ri­ence with hy­brid cars would place it at a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage when it came to the de­but of a new-gen­er­a­tion ful­l­elec­tric ve­hi­cle.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Leroy, Toy­ota has al­ready achieved a 43 per­cent global sales share among ve­hi­cles with some form of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, thanks to the pro­duc­tion of 37 mod­els that sell in more than 90 coun­tries.

“With more than 11 mil­lion elec­tri­fied cars we have sold in the past 20 years, we have de­vel­oped and im­proved many elec­tri­fied com­po­nents, in­clud­ing mo­tors, in­vert­ers, elec­tric con­trol soft­ware and bat­ter­ies,” he said.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence puts us in a very good po­si­tion for the next step, which is pure EVS.

“We have no doubt that EVS will be one of the key en­vi­ron­men­tal so­lu­tions in the near fu­ture.

“This is why we have cre­ated a new com­pany with Mazda and Denso to de­velop EV ar­chi­tec­ture with a view to mass pro­duc­tion.

“Cur­rently, we have more than 200 en­gi­neers work­ing hard to be able to com­mer­cialise this tech­nol­ogy some­time in the early 2020s.” Mr Leroy re­vealed ad­vances in solid-state bat­tery tech­nol­ogy were be­ing pur­sued for its new EV, which would sub­stan­tially im­prove driv­ing range be­tween recharg­ing and im­prove mass-pro­duc­tion vi­a­bil­ity.

“We have also in­vested in ad­vanced bat­tery re­search for a very long time, and we be­lieve our solid-state bat­tery tech­nol­ogy can be a game-changer with the po­ten­tial to dra­mat­i­cally im­prove driv­ing range,” he said.

An­nounced ear­lier this month, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion has a 90 per­cent stake in the new elec­tric ve­hi­cle com­pany called EV Com­mon Ar­chi­tec­ture Spirit, which is based near the car-maker’s head­quar­ters in Nagoya, Ja­pan.

Mazda Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion and Denso Cor­po­ra­tion each hold a five per­cent share in the joint ven­ture that will de­liver EV ar­chi­tec­ture for pas­sen­ger cars, SUVS and trucks for each com­pany.

De­spite the fo­cus on elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, which Mr Leroy said was ex­em­pli­fied by the hy­brid Tj Cruiser and GR HV Sports con­cepts un­veiled in Tokyo, he said Toy­ota re­mained com­mit­ted to the de­vel­op­ment of hy­dro­gen tech­nol­ogy, as demon­strated by the Finecom­fort Ride and Sora bus con­cepts also pre­viewed at the show.

Be­fore the fruit of the EV part­ner­ship is re­vealed, Mr Leroy con­firmed cloud-based ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy would be rolled out in Ja­pan and the United States from next year, with full au­ton­o­mous and com­pletely driver­less tech­nol­ogy avail­able for use on free­ways by 2020.

“Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence will only be pos­si­ble thanks to con­nec­tiv­ity and big data,” he said.

“That is why, as early as 2018, the new Toy­ota Crown based on the con­cept here will be the new norm for con­nected ve­hi­cles in Ja­pan.

“Af­ter Crown, we will equip al­most all of our pas­sen­ger cars in Ja­pan and the US by 2020 with data com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­ules and con­nec­tion to our Mo­bil­ity Ser­vice Plat­form in the cloud.”

The next-gen­er­a­tion Crown was pre­viewed at the Tokyo show by a con­cept based on the Toy­ota New Global Ar­chi­tec­ture – as used by the C-HR and the lat­est Prius hy­brid – while pro­to­types have been un­der­go­ing test­ing at the Nur­bur­gring in Ger­many.

The com­pany says the fo­cus with the new Crown is on both ve­hi­cle con­nec­tiv­ity and dy­namic per­for­mance.

Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion fur­ther pre­viewed AI tech­nol­ogy with a duo of mo­bil­ity ‘ob­jects’ dubbed Con­cepti – in­clud­ing i-walk that al­lows an owner to con­tinue a jour­ney where ve­hi­cles can­not, and i-ride which is a 2.5m-long pas­sen­ger pod.

Both in­cor­po­rate an AI agent called Yui, who ‘un­der­stands peo­ple’.

It will gather cloud-based data and owner in­for­ma­tion and habits, aimed at ac­quir­ing ‘deep learn­ing’ of the owner while ‘mea­sur­ing emo­tions and es­ti­mat­ing pref­er­ences’.

A form of AI could be sync­ing the nav­i­ga­tion to a des­ti­na­tion the com­puter recog­nises an owner needs to go, chang­ing a route due to a traf­fic jam and find­ing a carpark thanks to re­al­time com­mu­ni­ca­tion with other road users. Such tech­nol­ogy will pro­vide the ba­sis for what Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion has dubbed ‘au­to­mated driv­ing’ with both chauf­feur and guardian modes set to be of­fered in the fu­ture.

“In chauf­feur mode, our cars will be smart enough to han­dle all driv­ing tasks and pro­vide mo­bil­ity to those who can­not en­joy it now,” Mr Leroy said.

“In guardian mode, we com­bine hu­man and ma­chine skills to make driv­ing safer and to keep the lib­er­at­ing feel­ing of driv­ing as the car’s tech­nol­ogy is run­ning in the back­ground for your safety.

“Guardian and chauf­feur both re­flect Toy­ota’s unique ap­proach of de­vel­op­ing a safety sys­tem where the driver and the car act like team­mates.

“We call it Mo­bil­ity Team­mate, and it will be on the mar­ket in 2020 for high­ways and in the early 2020s for nor­mal roads.”

Lexus also used the Tokyo mo­tor show to dis­play an LS+ con­cept with high lev­els of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, which is ex­pected to reach the LS pro­duc­tion model by 2020.

TOP TIARA: The re­designed Toy­ota Crown con­cept shown in Tokyo her­alds the Ja­panese car-maker’s next step with con­nected tech­nol­ogy, which in turn is a pre­cur­sor to more ad­vanced driver­less tech­nol­ogy com­ing early next decade.

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