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Toyota has travelled to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to show off its new Guardian safety system. You'll be expecting this to be a next-level autonomous, robotic driving system. But it's not.
Instead, Toyota has said that Guardian takes inspiration from fighter jet technology. In a high-performance jet, a human pilot uses the control stick and rudder pedals to tell the aircraft's computer what to do, and the computers then decide how best to go about it, without exceeding the safe limits of the aircraft.
According to Toyota: "Toyota Guardian combines and coordinates the skills and strength of the human and the machine. It's being developed to amplify human control of the car, not to replace it. With Toyota Guardian, the driver is in control of the car at all times, except where Toyota Guardian anticipates or identifies a pending incident and employs a corrective response in coordination with driver input."
Toyota is, of course, still developing fully autonomous tech, under the code-name Chauffeur, but the Japanese giant sees that technology as being a long way away from coming to fruition, and believes that its Guardian tech has the ability to help save lives, right now. Interestingly, Toyota has said that it will offer the same technology to rival car makers, in an effort to put such life-saving tech into as many cars as possible. "There shouldn't be a discrete on-off switch between the human and the autonomy" according to Toyota Research Institute chief executive Dr. Gill Pratt. Dr Pratt's 'blended envelope control' system is the basis for that fighter jet idea, keeping the driver in control while the machines help out and speed up decision making.
According to Dr. Pratt, public acceptance of the inevitable crashes, injuries, and deaths that will occur due to fully autonomous Chauffeur systems may take considerable time. "In the meantime, we have a moral obligation to apply automated vehicle technology to save as many lives as possible as soon as possible."
Commenting on the new technology, Steve Tormey, Chief Executive of Toyota Ireland said: "While we continue to work on developing a fully autonomous system, the innovative Guardian system works alongside drivers and will help correct human mistakes and prevent as many incidents as possible. It shows how committed Toyota is to the safety of all road users, and by making the patented Guardian technology available to all manufacturers; it's a clear demonstration of being 'Built For A Better World.' No matter what car you drive, we believe in making the roads safer for everyone."