Toyota on Thursday revealed plans to build a dedicated test site for self-driving cars.
The site will be located within the 1.75-mile oval test track of the Michigan Technical Resource Park at Ottawa Lake, Michigan and span approximately 60 acres. It will include congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps.
The site is where Toyota plans to replicate demanding “edge case” driving scenarios that would be too dangerous to perform on public roads. Testing is scheduled to get underway in October and only Toyota vehicles will be provided entry.
Third-generation Toyota self-driving car prototype
Toyota is also testing self-driving cars at shared sites such as California's GoMentum Station and Michigan's Mcity locations. However, the automaker says constructing its own site will allow it to cater specifically to its unique testing needs.
Toyota, like many automakers, sees a future where fully self-driving cars replace taxis and people hail them much like you do today with an Uber or Lyft. The automaker last year presented a handful of fully self-driving concepts and has said its first cars with some self-driving capability, likely for highway use only, will be available around 2020.
Toyota in January said it is working on two systems for its self-driving cars. One is a Chauffeur system that will offer fully self-driving capability. The other is a Guardian system and this is the one that will appeal to enthusiasts. It lets you drive the car as you wish but if you get into trouble, for example failing to respond in time to an object ahead or perhaps falling asleep behind the wheel, the system can take over as necessary.