How Long Before Toyota’s Drive Themselves with Robotics?

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Toyota Motor Company has a history of innovation. They debuted a production hybrid car in 1997 (the Prius). They built one of the world’s most sophisticated assembly plants in Mikawa Bay, Japan, called Tahara, back in 1979. The Tahara plant is now estimated to be the world’s best quality auto production facility, with fewer defects per vehicle than any plant in the world. Of course, in 2007, Toyota debuted the new Tundra, the most powerful half-ton truck on the market today.

So, like I said, they’ve got a history of innovation.

We’ve already reported that Toyota is excited about the potential of their personal robot, and how they plan to develop a completely new industry. However, we’ve seen evidence that they intend to apply much of the technology developed with robotics integrated into new vehicles. Here’s a list of the new features you can expect:

1) Optical Recognition: What’s really stopping your car from driving itself? The on-board computer already controls every aspect of the drive train, and with the advent of ABS, traction control, and stability control, most vehicles can (and do) steer and accelerate themselves as needed. On board navigation systems, when combined with a local radio location signal, can pinpoint the position of your vehicle to within a few inches as it drives down the road.

If you car can stop, steer, accelerate, and know exactly where it is, why can’t it drive itself?

Because it’s completely and totally blind — at least for now. Optical recognition technologies are evolving. Originally pioneered by the defense department for guided missiles, computers with CCD sensors can now easily distinguish between shapes and colors. We’ve all heard of the face-recognizing cameras in Las Vegas, right? Continued investment in robotics will lead to better optical recognition technology, ultimately allowing a vehicle to “see” where it’s going using relatively inexpensive electronics.

2) Immediate Obstacle Awareness: Robots deployed in your home need to know what’s within the immediate area at all times. A variety of technologies can be used to achieve this, but a sophisticated radar-type system (significantly better than the sonic technology currently used in parking sensors) is needed to help keep a robot from running into a table leg, your foot, or your dog. This technology can (and will) be applied to vehicles. There’s a very good chance that “Collision Avoidance” will be an option that we’ll find on the window sticker in 10 years or less.

3) Robot-to-robot communication: If all our cars could see what’s in front of them and detect obstacles around them, it’s a short leap of the imagination to assume they’ll be able to communicate that information with each other. A high-speed wireless vehicle network could be used to share all this data amongst 100’s of vehicles, allowing them to function more efficiently. Theoretically, they could weave in between each other at high speed, negating stop signs, traffic signals, etc. All of our cars would move amongst each other like packets of bits do on the internet. Flying from point to point carefully navigated by a network of computers.

Imagine special ordering a new truck in 2022 — “I’ll take the Limited model with obstacle detection and avoidance, self-driving mode, and the Vehicle-to-Vehicle network package. I’d also like a sunroof.”

Filed Under:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×