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Toyota Testing Semi-Autonomous Lexus GS on Japanese Highways

“Highway Teammate” technology could go into production by 2020.

Toyota is testing semi-autonomous technologies that allow a modified Lexus GS sedan to drive itself on highways. Called Highway Teammate, Toyota says the demonstrator model paves the way for putting these features into series production by 2020.

Using both external sensors that monitor traffic conditions, and a highly accurate GPS map, the Lexus GS test car can take over control from a human operator once it enters a highway. The car then steers, brakes, and accelerates, “in much the same way as a person would drive,” Toyota says. The technology allows the car to change lanes and enter or exit highway merge lanes automatically.

Toyota calls its new system Highway Teammate because the company wants to emphasize that autonomous features complement, rather than replace, humans, “like close friends who sometimes watch over each other and sometimes help each other out.” The company plans to continue researching semi-autonomous technologies and hopes to put them into production by 2020.

Toyota isn’t alone in its goal to develop autonomous cars. In the U.S., Cadillac is also working on a highway-driving system, tentatively called Super Cruise, which should debut on 2017 Cadillac models. Volvo is also launching a fleet of self-driving test cars in Sweden, and Nissan says it will sell self-driving cars by 2020.

Take a closer look at the Lexus GS prototype with the Toyota Highway Teammate features in the videos below.

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