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Toyota starts automated driving testing on urban public roads in Europe

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) is beginning automated driving (AD) on public roads in Europe. After successful simulations and trials on closed circuits, TME is now taking its in-house developed AD systems to a real-life urban setting: the city center of Brussels, Belgium, where a modified Lexus LS will repeatedly complete a fixed loop for the next 13 months.

Within Toyota’s global operations, TME’s Brussels R&D facility is the Regional Centre of Excellence for Computer Vision – making computers ‘see and understand’ the environment around them. Toyota’s ultimate goal is zero casualties from traffic accidents, and the main goal of this pilot is to study complex and unpredictable human behavior and its impact on automated driving system requirements.

Responding to the complexity and diverse population of an urban environment like Brussels—the European capital and home to citizens of 184 different nationalities—is key to understanding human behavior. After successful trials on public roads in Japan and the US, we are now adding European conditions to the technology’s understanding.

—Gerard Killmann, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) Vice President Research and Development

The Lexus LS is a regular series production vehicle that will be driving on regular, open roads. The only difference is the roof mounted pack of sensors including lidar, radars, cameras and high-precision positioning system. In the car, a Safety Driver, who can intervene and overrule the AD vehicle control system at any time, will be accompanied by an Operator supervising the entire system.

Toyota is bringing this car to the open roads, after months of thorough preparation of the vehicle: validating the AD system, training the drivers, analysing the route and engaging with authorities to acquire the necessary approvals.

The automated vehicle will also be used for collecting data as part of Toyota’s involvement in the European “L3Pilot project,” along with 34 other partners, including major car manufacturers, automotive suppliers, research institutes and authorities.

The L3Pilot is a four-year European project launched in 2017 and partially funded by the European Commission. The project paves the way for large-scale AD field tests of around 1,000 drivers in 100 cars across 10 countries in Europe. Within this framework, TME will concentrate on researching customer behaviors and the safe operation of systems in complex and diverse urban environments.

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