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Toyota And Audi To Unveil Their Driverless Cars Next Week At CES

Given that California recently became the third state in the US to legalize driverless cars, it should come as no surprise that automakers are attempting to jockey for the lead in what promises to be a tight race into an emerging driverless car market. And although we haven’t seen them perform yet, we do know that our two new entries have one thing: style.

Toyota and Audi will be showcasing driverless luxury cars at the International Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas. Toyota will be rolling out a modified Lexus LS 600h hybrid. Like Google’s driverless Prius the Lexus uses radar, cameras and a laser range finder to navigate road lanes, traffic lights and signs, as well as avoid other vehicles on the road. Audi isn’t offering much specifics on their new car. We saw a driverless Audi TTS race up Pike’s Peak a few years back and then we saw their really slick A2 concept car last year. A spokesman from the company does assure us, however, that the car will not only be able to drive itself, but it’ll be able to search the parking lot for a space and park itself.

So, in the future, not only will the cars take us to the mall, it’ll drop us off curbside too. Sweet!

Here’s Toyota’s teaser video for the conference.

Toyota continues to lead the way in automotive innovation. Their Prius, Camry and Lexus hybrids were the top selling hybrids in 2012. And their first bid in the driverless car race, which one market analyst said would likely go a long way in spurring the adoption of driverless cars, is sure to be followed by many others. Despite Prius being the car of choice for Google’s driverless car, both companies are developing their driverless technologies independently.

The enterprising company has some horsepower in the electric car race as well. Earlier this year they revealed the RAV4 EV, a car Toyota developed in partnership with Tesla Motors.

In addition to the new Toyota and Audi prototypes, an overall rise in automakers at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show suggests that automotive technologies in general are accelerating. A CES record seven of the top 10 automakers in the world will have exhibits at next week’s show, including newcomer Subaru.

So, if you were wondering if driverless cars will ever hit the road, stop wondering. The aggressiveness with which automotive giants like Toyota and Audi are developing them and the speed at which states are paving the way with legislation point to a driverless car market that’s ripening quickly. And so far Florida, Nevada and California are doing their part to make sure that when the cars do hit the road, they’ll be rolling off lots in their states. No doubt other states are drafting legislation right now, lest they fall too far behind.

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8 comments

  • Andrew Atkin
    Andrew Atkin says:

    I have been following this closely for years. The reader might find some interest with my thoughts on this.

    http://andrewatkin.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/thoughts-for-driverless-revolution.html

    -I go into what this technology means as far as urban development goes.

  • redj3k says:

    It’s obvious that this technology will completely change the design of cars, not just the “style” but the entire paradigm of the Car.
    I think this interesting concept could be a wise example of what a “car” will be in the SelfDriving Era.

    http://tommasogecchelin.com/2012/10/04/next-life-in-motion/

  • arpad says:

    I’m generally pretty excited about autonomous cars but there are some questions that I would like to have answered.

    For instance, how sensitive are autonomous cars to weather conditions? Can they sense black ice? When do they “decide” that there’s too much snow on the road to continue on and what do they do about that? Turn around and try to retrace their route? Come to a stop? What do they do when they do get stuck in the snow? Can they recognize a tornado coming down the road towards them?

    Will they recognize a flagman directing traffic into the single, open lane while construction is occurring in the closed lane? Will they react appropriately? Can they detect and obey a “detour” sign?

    Can they detect, and react appropriately, to emergency vehicles?

    Can they detect, and react appropriately, to an emergency situation *within* the vehicle? A heart attack or a violent assault?

    What happens when an autonomous car does hit a pedestrian? What happens when an autonomous car is presented with a “no good choices” emergency, i.e. a kid darts into the car’s path resulting in a choice between hitting the kid or swerving into the path of an on-coming truck?

    What happens when an autonomous car malfunctions in some way?

    I’m of the opinion that autonomous cars aren’t ready for the open road just yet and I’m not sure when they will be. That’s why I continue to believe that autonomous cars/robotic drivers will find their first, wide-spread application in a more controlled, commercial environment. Agriculture and mining are both prime candidates for the employment of robotic drivers since both make use of individual vehicles to contend with the need for flexibility and both occur, largely, in areas which are separated from public roadways.

    • blah says:

      I’m of the opinion that autonomous cars aren’t ready for the open road just yet and I’m not sure when they will be. That’s why I continue to believe that autonomous cars/robotic drivers will find their first, wide-spread application in a more controlled, commercial environment. Agriculture and mining are both prime candidates for the employment of robotic drivers since both make use of individual vehicles to contend with the need for flexibility and both occur, largely, in areas which are separated from public roadways.

      That has been happening for sometime

      • arpad says:

        Nope. Not, at least, in the same sense as the cars that put an end to the DARPA Grand Challenge after two outings and an end to the Urban Challenge after a single outing.

        Those vehicles were capable of making decisions about the situations they ran into even if not specifically programmed for a response. The DARPA “Challenge” vehicles had some degree of situational awarness and some ability to decide on a course of action based on their perception of the situation.

        Autonomous tractors would be able to do more then just march up and down rows of crops with unerring accuracy. They’d be able to decide that a creek-bank washout or a downed tree means “stop, don’t plow here”. They might be able to decide when it’s time to go back to get some fuel or that a tire’s getting low and then act accordingly. The tractors in the video don’t have that degree of autonomy or, indeed, any autonomy.

  • Robert Schreib says:

    ?? Would it be possible to make a humanoid robot, speculized for driving, that you could buckle up in the driver’s seat of your ordinary car, and have the robot drive the car as your chauffer?

  • FacebookUser2 says:

    Driverless Car Design Example: Doctorate/Masters in Unmanned Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLq0DWudmg

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