Ford, BMW, Mitsubishi, Volvo; over the past few years, it seems like everybody in the auto industry has jumped onto the driverless bandwagon. Well, almost everybody at least. Because the world's largest automaker is still taking a long, hard look at the tech behind autonomous cars before joining the race.
A report by Automotive News says Toyota believes completely handing over driving responsibilities to our vehicles remains too dangerous to pursue at present, and that it plans to spend years developing human-controlled cars before going for the idea.
During a speech at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt said no one in the industry is even close to achieving "level five autonomy," or the level at which a car may drive itself without human intervention. "It will take many years of machine learning and many more miles than anyone has logged of both simulated and real-world testing to achieve the perfection required,'' he said.
The executive added that Toyota and other car companies will only focus on level two autonomy for now. In level two, computers have some control over steering, braking and acceleration, but humans remain in control of the vehicle. Pratt adds that it will be difficult, but car autonomy will grow over time. At level three, humans will only need to act in cases of emergencies. At level four, the car will be in complete control, but only on routes designed and approved for driverless tech.
Toyota also says that while society has come to terms with the number of traffic fatalities due to human error, it would never tolerate the same if it involved driverless cars. So yeah, Musk and Google can have at it. Toyota though? We'll have to wait a while.