Toyota Research Institute is accelerating its autonomous vehicle efforts with a new third-generation test platform that it’ll be showing off in person at CES next week. The so-called ‘Platform 3.0’ car uses a Lexus LS 600hL as its base, and goes further than its predecessors in terms of integrating the autonomous sensing and hardware features with the vehicle’s design for a bit more of a consumer-friendly look.
The third-gen test bed also focuses on improved perception tech, including Luminar’s LIDAR array, now incorporated a 360-degree field of view (it was forward-facing only on the second-generation car). There are also now shorter-range LIDAR for areas less than 200 meters out, positioned lower on the vehicle on all four sides, and intended to spot stuff like kids crossing around the vehicle or even smaller debris on the road.
Other new features on the vehicle include a panel in the roof that’s both weather and temperature-proof, and that also manages to somewhat camouflage the LIDAR array, rather than simply putting the iconic upside-down chicken bucket look of previous generation sensors front and center.
There’s also now a trunk in the vehicle – previously, this was taken up entirely by the onboard computing components of the autonomous driving system. Now, it’s been condensed into one small box.
TRI has designed two versions of this test platform vehicle, including one with a dual cockpit control design that’s intended for testing ‘Guardian,’ the advanced driver assistance (or Level 3) tech that TRI is developing. The other uses just a single cockpit, and it’ll be used to test the full Level 4 or Level 5 ‘Chauffeur’ self-driving technologies that TRI is working on.
This vehicle will begin production in the spring, according to the company, and is designed to be low volume to allow for greater flexibility in terms of iterating on the platform, since TRI has already updated the platform with major changes twice in one year.