Toyota is ramping up the development of its first self-driving car and plans to by next year market a vehicle that will be able to operate totally autonomously on highways.
To do that, the company admits it will have to work doubly quickly on building what would essentially the “most powerful supercomputer on wheels.”
According to Automotive News Europe
, the automaker is working with a small technology company called TRI-AD (Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development) which is run by an American named James Kuffner.
TRI-AD calls itself “a bridge of the prototype to the product,” and according to Kuffner, this project will be the “moonshot” of his generation.
The final piece of technology will be named “Highway Teammate,” and will debut on a Lexus-branded vehicle.
The largest challenge for the project right now will be the development of the software and hardware, which will be taken up by TRI-AD. It says costs to build the parts will have to drop by at least half their current rate before the tech can become widespread.
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Toyota has decided the new vehicle will be a Lexus because the expense of the self-driving system can be more easily soaked up by the vehicle's price if the car was also a high-end model.
General Motors debuted its semi-autonomous Supercruise tech – which can similarly mostly drive itself but only on select major highways – via its high-end Cadillac brand for the same reason.