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Lexus is Working on a Driver Assist System to Rival Cadillac's Super Cruise

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【Summary】Tired of falling behind the competition that already has advanced driver-assist systems on luxury vehicles, Lexus President Koji Sato laid out what’s coming in the automaker’s future.

Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 28, 2020 10:15 AM PT
Lexus is Working on a Driver Assist System to Rival Cadillac's Super Cruise

Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Tesla, and Cadillac all have advanced driver-assist systems that help drivers deal with traffic. Tesla is obviously in the lead with its Autopilot, even touting that its vehicles will soon become autonomous, though the cars are semi-autonomous at best at the moment. 


Cadillac's Super Cruise system is unique because it allows drivers to physically take their hands off the wheel while the vehicle handles a lot of the driving. However, not even this system is considered to be "self-driving." 


Trying To Play Catch Up 


Lexus is behind the times. The Japanese luxury brand only offers a rudimentary list of safety features that you can also find on Toyota. That's going to change in the future, as Lexus looks to catch up with its rivals.


Speaking with Lexus President Koji Sato, Automotive News Europe got the inside scoop on what we can expect from Lexus in the near future. Exciting things are in store for Lexus, as the brand has plans to introduce its first autonomous vehicle this year. 


Lexus will even sell the system to consumers in a vehicle. But just like Tesla, autonomous capability won't be unlocked until an over-the-air software update becomes available at a later date. Yes, over-the-air updates are coming for Lexus' cars.


According to Sato, the autonomous system will be "hands off but not eyes off." Just from that little tidbit, it sounds like a direct competitor to Cadillac's Super Cruise. "It will start from Level 2 but it will have over-the-air updates so that for the future we can update the level," Sato said. And just like Cadillac's system, Lexus' will be able to change lanes, follow lane markings, and pass vehicles on the highway automatically. The feature will be called Highway Teammate and is being jointly developed by Denso.


Waiting On Regulations


Based on Sato's comments, the system sounds like it will have Level 2 capability. But over-the-air updates could push it higher. How high depends on specific markets and regulations in those areas. "Regulation and also social concerns may effect what level we can produce in the real world," said Sato.


Sato didn't provide any information on what vehicle the piece of technology would appear on or which region would get it first. The first time we saw Highway Teammate on a Lexus was back in 2017 with the LS+ concept. As Car and Driver reported back then, Lexus was working with the Japanese government to map the country's roads to give the technology a useable network of roads. That makes it sound like Japan would be the first country to get the tech, which makes sense.


As Automotive News Europe points out, Audi launched an "eyes-off" Level 3 autonomous feature with the A8 sedan in 2018. Traffic Jam Pilot, which is what the system is called, hasn't been approved by regulators yet. Mercedes-Benz has plans to introduce a Level 3 autonomous system for its S-Class before 2020 comes to an end. Lastly, BMW's upcoming iNEXT electric crossover will come with Level 3 capability in 2021.

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