IN MOTION


Meet ‘Highway Teammate,’ the latest member of the ADAS family

Lexus is the latest automaker to leap into the fray of highly automated driving, announcing that its “Highway Teammate” advanced driver assist system (ADAS) will be available in 2020. The system, which offers “automated driving from the entrance ramp to exit ramp on motor-vehicle-only roadways,” is featured as part of the sleek, glowing LS+ concept that Lexus is showing off at the Tokyo auto show this week.

Highway Teammate will “enable automated merging, lane changes and diverging, as well as keep a vehicle in its lane and maintain vehicle-to-vehicle distance,” the Toyota-owned brand states. But as far as the types of sensors and cameras that it will be using to power its system, Lexus won’t say.

When it’s released, Highway Teammate will put Lexus in competition with Tesla, Cadillac, Audi, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and other automakers that are adding more and more semi-autonomous driving features to their vehicles. Autopilot, Super Cruise, Traffic Jam Pilot, ProPilot, and others are helping introduce hands-free driving to the luxury market. And now Lexus is getting in on the party.

We don’t know what sort of limitations will apply to Lexus’s system until the automaker says more. All of these systems require some level of driver attention, and some are only usable on certain roads. Lexus says it will utilize some combination of connected-car technology and artificial intelligence to ensure safe automated driving.

It’s also unclear how Lexus’s Highway Teammate will overlap with Toyota’s other two self-driving research systems: Chauffeur and Guardian. The Japanese company recently announced it was testing higher-tech versions of its driverless vehicles in California.

And then there’s this statement:

The car, which can learn and grow along with its users, represents a new age for the image of cars to which people can become emotionally attached.

Lexus seems to be following the lead of its parent company, Toyota, in building new technology into cars with the purpose making them more loveable to humans. Toyota’s Concept-i vehicle, released during CES earlier this year, has built-in artificial intelligence, nicknamed “Yui,” designed to “learn from and grow with the driver.”

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