Toyota Aims to Have a Autonomous Car on Sale in a Year

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【Summary】Still think autonomous cars are years away? Toyota doesn’t think that’s the case, as the Japanese brand claims it will have drivable supercomputers on the road by 2020.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 14, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Toyota Aims to Have a Autonomous Car on Sale in a Year

Depending on what automaker you believe, autonomous vehicles are either decades away or right around the corner. Toyota, which is an automaker that, in its defense, has been working steadfastly on self-driving technology, is a little gung-ho about the future. In a report by Automotive News, Toyota claims that it's planning to bring an autonomous vehicle to market by 2020. 

What Toyota Still Needs To Do

Needless to say, Toyota has a massive climb ahead of itself. The company, according to the outlet, is still working on perfecting its hardware and software. Then, the brand still needs to work out a way to bring the tech to market in an affordable way. So there's a lot that needs to happen in a year. The man in charge of completing all of these tasks, James Kuffner, CEO of Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development Inc. (TRI-AD), still believes this is all possible. 

According to Kuffner, Toyota, or TRI-AD's, first self-driving car will be "rolling supercomputers" when they come out in a year. "The prototypes and the preproduction vehicles that the team is building here at TRI-AD are going to be … the most intelligent supercomputer on wheels," said Kuffner. "We've called it the moonshot of my generation to build this technology and bring it to market." 

TRI-AD was put into place last March to lead Toyota's overall autonomous program. The arm is a product of Aisin Seiki and Denso, two of Toyota's suppliers, that helped contribute to the $2.8 billion total to develop software for autonomous cars. In an attempt to come out with vehicles that can rival things coming from Silicon Valley, TRI-AD's deadest on its main "moonshot" goal. 

In an effort to reach its goal, Toyota is currently testing its technology in an advanced Lexus LS sedan (pictured above). The automaker also has a 60-acre facility in Michigan where it basically replicated a small city.  

Other Possible Issues

With the money, brilliant minds, testing facility, and know-how, Toyota could meet its goal. The major issue, though, has to deal with costs. According to Ken Koibuchi, TRI-AD's chief technical officer, the company has to find a way to reduce the price of the technology by "more than half" of what it sits at today. That's major issue, as the price of vehicles continue to rise without fully-autonomous tech, so one can only image just how high prices will be for Toyota and Lexus' vehicle. 

Another major issue is how the U.S. government will react to the vehicle. The U.S. government has been slow to create clear guidelines for companies and automakers to follow and is still ambiguous about how it will regulate self-driving vehicles. 

While Toyota and TRI-AD's objective may seem farfetched, it's nice to see a traditional automaker attempt to beat the start ups from Silicon Valley. 

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