The Toyota Research Institute says it will bring its next-generation Platform 3.0 automated driving vehicle to CES next week, an autonomous test car that is notable for incorporating the sensors and cameras into the body, rather than as ungainly attachments, and with the spinning LIDAR rooftop sensor replaced by a more sleek panel of sensors.
Platform 3.0 is built on a Lexus LS600hL. Toyota Research Institute says it enlisted CALTY Design Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. and engineers at Toyota's nearby North America R&D center to conceal the equipment. As a result, Platform 3.0 gets a new rooftop weather and temperature proof panel, which it says was inspired by off-road motorcycle helmets, integrated into the available space in the sunroof compartment to minimize height. It's also embellished with chrome trim along the side, where it meets the roofline, and the rear swoops down to integrate with the LS's contour lines. The team also managed to consolidate computational electronics and wiring into a small box in the trunk.
Toyota says the Platform 3.0 is one of the most perceptive autonomous test vehicles on the road today, with a design makes the test vehicle easy to build at scale. It gets a Luminar LIDAR system boasting a 200-meter, 360-degree range (the previous version only tracked the forward direction), enabled by four high-res LIDAR scanning heads that help it better see dark objects. Shorter-range LIDAR sensors feature low on all four sides of the vehicle, one on each front quarter panel and on the front and rear bumpers, to detect low-level and smaller objects, like children or road debris.
Production begins this spring at the Toyota Motor North America R&D headquarters at low volumes to allow for flexibility, given the rapid rate of development of Toyota's autonomous test platforms. Some will be assembled using Toyota's Guardian dual-cockpit control layout to allow for transferring control between a human test driver and the automated system while keeping the driver as a backup, while the single-cockpit, fully autonomous Chauffeur mode will be shown at CES starting Jan. 9.