Toyota to show off autonomous prototype car at CES show

Lexus prototype includes numerous accident avoidance technologies

Toyota is going to show off its autonomous car/accident avoidance technology at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas nest week. 

The 2013 Lexus LS uses what the car company calls its Intelligent Transport System and is fitted with on-board radar, video cameras and sensors to monitor the road, surroundings, and the driver all with the goal of preventing accidents and avoiding problems.  The car can also "talk" to other similarly equipped autos as well as communicate with smartphones for location and other applications.

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According to a release, Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Mark Templin will discuss the use of autonomous technologies and high-level driver assistance systems related to Toyota's Integrated Safety Management Concept and the Intelligent Transport Systems research and development at CES.

The company has been developing all manner of collision avoidance technology. For example in November the company talked about its Intelligent Clearance Sonar2 technology which uses sonar to detect obstacles hidden from the driver's view, automatically applying the brakes if the vehicle is at risk of collision. When the clearance sonar detects an obstacle the vehicle is at risk of colliding with, such as a wall, when starting off in a parking garage or other similar environment, the system sounds an alarm, reduces engine or motor output and automatically applies the brakes, Toyota said.

Toyota also said it was developing what it called Drive-start Control2 technology which it says "controls engine output to mitigate collisions that may occur as a result of erroneous gear shifting or pedal use while the vehicle is stationary or moving at low speed.  For example, if while reversing in a parking lot, a driver unexpectedly strikes an object, the driver may become startled and shift gears from reverse to drive while continuing to press the accelerator.  Drive-start Control reduces engine or motor output if such an instance is detected, Toyota stated.

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Also in November Toyota said it had opened an ITS Proving Ground in Japan to test its technologies.  The outdoor facility lets Toyota simulate an urban environment with faithfully replicated roads and traffic signals.  The site is equipped with a road-to-vehicle communications system consisting of a vehicle detection system, a pedestrian detection system, a course monitoring system, traffic signals and control devices.

According to Toyota the communications system runs on the 700 MHz band, to enable reception over wide areas is possible, making it effective for communications with vehicles at intersections and other locations with poor visibility.

"Not the Jetsons yet, but our advanced active safety research car is leading the industry into a new automated era," Toyota said in a Tweet the BBC wrote about on Thursday.

Toyota of course is not alone in such autonomous car development.  Ford, Audi, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan are just  a few of the other auto makers investing heavily in crash avoidance technology.  Google's autonomous car developed has also garnered lots of attention in the past couple years.  

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