Toyota has been treading a slow and cautionary path towards the implementation of autonomous driving technology on its cars; understandable given the recent spate of unintended acceleration claims made against the automaker. However, earlier this year Toyota showed a Lexus LS-based research vehicle it was using to trial new autonomous technologies and now the automaker has announced some of its upcoming features the research vehicle has helped developed.

The first is a new system dubbed Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA). The system uses two autonomous technologies to support safer driving and reduce driver workload: Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control, which wirelessly communicates with following vehicles to maintain a safe distance; and Lane Trace Control, which aids steering to keep a vehicle in its lane.

Unlike regular cruise control systems, which rely on radar to detect their surroundings, Toyota’s Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control communicates with other cars, sending acceleration and deceleration data so that following vehicles can adjust their speeds accordingly to better maintain inter-vehicle distance. By reducing unnecessary acceleration and deceleration, the system also improves fuel efficiency and helps reduce traffic congestion. Of course, such a system will only work if other cars also feature the system.

Lane Trace Control, meanwhile, uses a combination of camera and radar monitoring systems to keep a car in its lane, by using the gathered data to then make adjustments to the steering, driving torque and braking force when necessary.

Overview of the Pre-collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian-avoidance Steer Assist

Overview of the Pre-collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian-avoidance Steer Assist

In addition to AHDA, Toyota has also announced a pedestrian safety system dubbed Pre-collision System (PCS). This uses automatic steering in addition to increased pre-collision braking force and automatic braking to help prevent collisions with pedestrians and other objects on the road.

An on-board sensor detects objects ahead and issues a visual alert on the dashboard immediately in front of the driver if the system determines that there is a risk of collision.  If the likelihood of a collision increases, the system then issues an audio and visual alarm to encourage the driver to take evasive action, and the increased pre-collision braking force and automatic braking functions are activated.  If the system determines that a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone and there is sufficient room for avoidance, steering assist is activated to steer the vehicle away from the pedestrian.

Toyota says the first of its autonomous technologies will start appearing on its cars by the middle of the decade.


Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.