Remember Toyota’s ‘autonomous drifting’ tech that it said it’s developing in the name of safety? The carmaker just took things a step further.
How much further? Well, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has gone from test drives (and drifts) in an open space to full-on autonomous drifting on a closed 3km track—and with obstacles along the way at that.
Toyota is using nonlinear model predictive control (NMPC) technology for this project. It enables the car—in this case, a tuned and modified Supra—to safely and autonomously navigate sudden obstacles or hazardous road conditions. This will come in handy specifically during extreme situations where the maneuvers needed to avoid accidents are “beyond normal limits of handling.”
By building skills that are “comparable to an expert driver,” Toyota is looking to bolster regular drivers’ abilities to respond to dangerous situations, and ultimately, help keep more people safe on the road.
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“At TRI, our goal is to use advanced technologies that augment and amplify humans, not replace them,” said TRI Human Centric Driving Research senior manager Avinash Balachandran. “Through this project, we are expanding the region in which a car is controllable, with the goal of giving regular drivers the instinctual reflexes of a professional race car driver to be able to handle the most challenging emergencies and keep people safer on the road.”
“When faced with wet or slippery roads, professional drivers may choose to ‘drift’ the car through a turn, but most of us are not professional drivers,” said TRI research scientist Jonathan Goh. “That’s why TRI is programming vehicles that can identify obstacles and autonomously drift around obstacles on a closed track.”
Toyota says it is doing its part to help eliminate the yearly tally of 40,000 car crash-related fatalities in the US and the 1.35 million worldwide. For more details, you can check out the short clip below: