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Toyota wants robots to do the driving for us

Rob Enderle | April 11, 2016
Toyota is not only looking to the future of cars, but to a future of robotic cars. Columnist Rob Enderle writes that Toyota is working on two models of autonomous vehicles so you can be safe when you are driving or when the computer is driving.

This is why Toyota wants both the chauffeur and guardian angel modes to coexist. In theory, in this way, cars will be as safe when you are driving or when the computer is driving. You will still get the feeling of driving but the system will aggressively protect you from harm or you can kick back and let the computer do the driving for you. I expect the result may not be that different than the car rides at Disneyland where you drive on a track and feel like you are driving, but are prevented from doing anything unsafe.  


Toyota already had 200 people working on the guardian angel and simulation parts of the problem and they just added 50 people to work on the chauffeur method. This new effort will be driven by two professors out of the University of Michigan. There is a lot of sharing right now between manufacturers both in terms of people and ideals. In this effort all of the major manufactures are working together to assure safe progress is made and that the solutions, while not completely equal, are all safe and successful.

Kind of looks like the automotive industry is rediscovering open source.  

The blending of human and machine

Pratt closed with a final picture of the quadriplegic patient using a computer aided system working in parallel with her to unlatch and open a door. This is a complex task and one that would have been impossible for someone as badly limited as the operator was.  

While the focus of this was on autonomous cars, it showcases how these advances could be applied to make people that aren’t currently mobile and have limited capability fully functional and capable again.  

A lot of folks talk about the singularity, the blending of human and machine, this presentation made it clear we are far closer than many now think.  


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