Since unveiling its Platform 2.0 research vehicle in March 2017, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has quickly updated its automated driving technology. The next iteration, dubbed Platform 2.1, is being shown for the first time on a closed-course.
In parallel with the creation of this innovative test platform, TRI has made strong advances in deep learning computer perception models that allow the automated vehicle system to more accurately understand the vehicle surroundings, detecting objects and roadways, and better predict a safe driving route. These new architectures are faster, more efficient and more highly accurate.
In addition to object detection, the models’ prediction capabilities can also provide data about road elements, such as road signs and lane markings, to support the development of maps, which are a key component of automated driving functionality.
On Platform 2.1, TRI created a second vehicle control cockpit on the front passenger side with a fully operational drive-by-wire steering wheel and pedals for acceleration and braking.
This setup allows the research team to probe effective methods of transferring vehicle control between the human driver and the autonomous system in a range of challenging scenarios. It also helps with development of machine learning algorithms that can learn from expert human drivers and provide coaching to novice drivers.
TRI has also designed a unified approach to showing the various states of autonomy in the vehicle, using a consistent user interface across screens, coloured lights and a tonal language that is tied into Guardian and Chauffeur. The institute is also experimenting with increasing a driver’s situational awareness by showing a point cloud representation of everything the car “sees” on the multimedia screen in the centre stack.
With its broad-based advances in hardware and software, Platform 2.1 is a research tool for concurrent testing of TRI’s dual approaches to vehicle autonomy – Guardian and Chauffeur – using a single technology stack.
Under Guardian, the human driver maintains vehicle control and the automated driving system operates in parallel, monitoring for potential crash situations and intervening to protect vehicle occupants when needed. Chauffeur is Toyota’s version of SAE Level 4/5 autonomy where all vehicle occupants are passengers.
Both approaches use the same technology stack of sensors and cameras. This is the first time the Guardian and Chauffeur systems have been demonstrated on the same platform, which includes multiple test scenarios to demonstrate TRI’s advances in both applications.
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