Toyota reveals Platform 3.0 – next-gen autonomous test vehicle
Toyota has revealed its next-generation autonomous test vehicle, called Platform 3.0 ahead of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
PLATFORM 3.0 is based on a Lexus LS 600h L with the aim of blending the sensing equipment into the design of the vehicle in a “manner that is easy to reproduce for building a fleet at scale”… sort of.
“Our team has once again rapidly advanced our automated vehicle research capabilities,” said Dr Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Toyota Motor Corporation Fellow. “To elevate our test platform to a new level, we tapped Toyota’s design and engineering expertise to create an all-new platform that has the potential to be a benchmark in function and style.”
Toyota claims the aim of the vehicle is to further develop the ability to sense what is happening immediately around the vehicle. Toyota said that its previous test vehicle, the Luminar LIDAR system – with its 200-metre range – only tracked the forward direction; now it covers the full 360-degree perimeter around the car. “This is made possible by four high-resolution LIDAR scanning heads which precisely detect objects around the vehicle, including notoriously difficult-to-see dark objects”.
Shorter-range LIDAR sensors are positioned low down on all four sides of the vehicle: one in each front quarter panel and one each on the front and rear bumpers. These can detect low-level and smaller objects near the car, such as children or debris on the road.
In talking about Platform 3.0, Toyota went to lengths to talk up the design of the test vehicle and the integration of its sensors into the design of the vehicle, but I can’t help but think it still looks like a police vehicle with bits and pieces tacked on all over it. Here’s what Toyota said:
“TRI engaged the expertise of CALTY Design Research and engineers at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) to create compact packaging and conceal the sensors and cameras. They created a new rooftop weather and temperature-proof panel, cleverly making use of the space in the sunroof compartment to minimise overall height. “Their ingenuity means the equipment no longer looks like an array of bolt-on parts, and the “spinning bucket” LIDAR sensor that has historically been a characterising feature of autonomous test vehicles has been replaced.
“CALTY gave the rooftop panel a confident image, applying styling defined as intelligent minimalism, inspired by crash helmets used for off-road motorcycling. The forward area has a crisp, technical look that becomes more fluid and aerodynamic towards the rear of the vehicle, unifying with the LS’s contour lines. The panel is embellished with chrome trim along the side where it meets the roof line.”
Toyota will put the Platform 3.0 into low volume production this year.