Audi and Toyota to reveal self-driving car features at CES

4 Jan 2013

Lexus AASRV, a retrofitted Lexus LS 600h that features autonomous driving technologies

Toyota and Audi are gearing up to reveal next-generation self-driving car features at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week, as both companies vie to break new technological ground in the driverless car space.

In December, Toyota announced it would be debuting its advanced active safety research vehicle (AASRV) – a retrofitted Lexus LS 600h – at CES. The car appears to feature an autonomous driving system with radar and camera equipment to allow the car to navigate roads, detect traffic and see road markings without a driver. The car also features a roof-mounted laser system that seems to be similar to what Google has been using on its self-driving cars.

Next Monday, on the eve of the start of the CES on 8 January, Lexus group vice-president Mark Templin is set to discuss how Toyota’s North American-based programme is exploring the use of autonomous technologies and driver-assistance systems.

Toyota posted a video on its website yesterday of the Lexus AASRV, with the caption: “Lexus advanced active safety research vehicle is leading the industry into a new automated era.”

Lexus AASRV with autonomous driving technologies

Toyota’s autonomous driving technologies, as featured on the Lexus AASRV, a retrofitted Lexus LS 600h

Meanwhile, Audi is also preparing to showcase self-driving vehicle features at CES next week, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

It seems Audi will be demonstrating autonomous vehicle capabilities, including a feature to allow a car to pinpoint a parking space and park itself without the need for a driver.

Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009. In late 2011, it was granted a US patent to switch cars from human-controlled mode into driverless mode, so cars can self-drive.

In May of last year, Nevada became the first US state to grant Google a special licence to test its self-driving car, a modified Toyota Prius vehicle, on its roads.

California then followed suit, becoming the second US state to pass a bill to allow autonomous vehicles to be tested on its roads and highways. Since then, Florida has also passed a law to make self-driving cars street legal in the state.

Other companies that are pioneering self-driving technology include Mercedes-Benz, which is working on a new flagship S-class sedan that is set to feature semi-autonomous steering and autonomous emergency braking.

Ford is also edging towards the autonomous driving era, with the onslaught of new driver assistance technologies, such as Traffic Jam Assist and its Active Park Assist system.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic