Toyota Testing Self-Driving, Pedestrian Avoidance Technologies

Toyota tests new safety tech.

Toyota announced today that it is testing two active-safety technologies for future cars. The first, called Automated Highway Driving Assist, is said to be ready for use on production cars within this decade. The second feature, called Pedestrian-Avoidance Steer Assist, is designed to reduce the number of accidents between cars and pedestrians.

The Toyota Automated Highway Driving Assist builds on the Lexus LS-based Advanced Active Safety Vehicle concept shown at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. Like that show car, the AHDA system uses adaptive cruise control and a lane-keeping function to drive the car autonomously on the highway. The new “cooperative-adaptive” cruise control not only uses radar to help the car keep a safe distance from other vehicles, but also transmits data on a 700-MHz signal to warn other vehicles of traffic. The idea is that following vehicles can also adjust their speeds to reduce the likelihood of traffic bunching and collisions. The Lane Trace Control system uses radar and cameras to “read” lane markings to steer the car without human intervention.

Toyota plans to start testing the AHDA system on public roads near Tokyo in October, and claims the technology could go on sale “in the mid-2010s.”

The Japanese automaker also announced it is developing an extension of its pre-collision system, which can apply a car’s brakes to prevent a crash, which would help avoid impacts with pedestrians. Toyota is especially interested in this sort of technology as it says 37 percent of all traffic fatalities in Japan involve cars hitting pedestrians. The Pedestrian-Avoidance Steer Assist feature steps in when braking alone can’t avoid a crash, and steers the car around a hazard like a pedestrian stepping off the sidewalk. Ford recently demonstrated a similar system in Europe that would automatically steer a car to avoid a potential accident.

Toyota claims it plans to launch Pedestrian-Avoidance Steer Assist on production cars by 2015.

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