Last month, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) brought a bunch of reporters out to this raceway in California to check out their Accelerated Concepts program. It was the first time they had ever done anything like this, and they let the journalists get in their cars and simulators to see how their autonomy program works.
TRI is all about active safety, not just self-driving cars. They believe in high autonomy and high driver engagement, which makes driving not only safer but also more fun. They’re all about keeping the driver engaged and working with the car as a truly intelligent partner.
They also showed off their Driving Sensei concept, which is all about using AI to help drivers become better and safer drivers. It gives them AI-driven instruction and support to improve their skills while keeping them engaged in the driving task.
The CEO of TRI, Gill Pratt, made it clear that safety is their top priority. They’re all about discovering better and safer ways for humans and AI to work together. They’re building models that predict drivers’ actions and developing AI that enhances driver performance.
They showed off a bunch of different technologies at the event, including Human-Focused Learning, Driver/Vehicle Performance and Safety, and Shared Autonomy. The Human-Focused Learning uses machine-learning techniques to create accurate models of human behavior. They’re trying to build expert-level driving skills with AI through Driver/Vehicle Performance and Safety. And then there’s Shared Autonomy, where AI and drivers work together for a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.
At the event, the media got to test out some pretty wild stuff, like an autonomous self-drifting Toyota Supra and a fully autonomous Lexus LC500. These things were charging down the track at high speeds but were able to avoid obstacles and show off some expert-level driving skills thanks to the AI.
They also let people test out the Global Research Innovation Platform (GRIP), which is a research vehicle with some pretty wild features. It has four-wheel steering and in-wheel electric motors, and it’s used for driving research.
This thing has in-car dynamics emulation that helps people train in a controlled environment. The media got to test out countersteering to control drifting and even navigate an ice patch. They also interacted with an AI-powered driving coach that used real-time natural language to instruct them based on their actions and give them tips.
Avinash Balachandran, the director of TRI’s Human Interactive Driving Division, had this to say: “Can we save more lives by bringing automated vehicle technology to more people in more places and sooner? We think the answer is yes – by rethinking the way people and embodied technologies interact to create new experiences and value for our customers.”