Saturday, January 05, 2013

Audi, Toyota promise driverless car demos at CES 2013

Google has been at the forefront of driverless vehicles, with at least some of their cars being Toyotas. Toyota seems to have taken a cue from that. On Thursday, both Toyota and rival carmaker Audi promised to demo their own self-driving vehicles at CES, which takes place next week in Las Vegas.

Toyota, in fact, provided a preview video posted to its website on Thursday. It shows a tiny five-second clip of a driverless Lexus LS600h vehicle. The caption said "Lexus advanced active safety research vehicle is leading the industry into a new automated era."

The vehicle is part of Toyota's AASRV (Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle) program. In addition to discussing its self-driving technology -- which doesn't appear as far along as Google's -- Toyota plans to also discuss some car-to-car communication technology on Monday.

Volvo has been touting that sames functionality, of late.

Google began testing self-driving cars in 2009, and while Google uses many Toyota vehicles in its autonomous self-driving fleet, both companies confirmed that Toyota's technology wasn't the result of a partnership. Each company is working on self-driving systems independently.

Audi will have a smaller presence at CES than Toyota. An official said that it will also be demonstrating autonomous vehicle capabilities at CES, but not, apparently, of the type that includes driving. Instead, one of the spotlighted features Audi will demo will be a feature that allows a car to find a parking space and park itself sans driver.

While both the Toyota and Audi driverless car programs are far behind Google's efforts, it will be interesting if the pair joins Google in lobbying for self-driving car legality. Last year, Google was successful at getting Nevada to give its driverless cars a license to (test) drive.

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