The Toyota Research Institute had a breakthrough last year in its quest for safer driving. It was so profound that Toyota wants to open to other automakers.
The inspiration was modern fighter aircraft using a low-level flight control system to translate the pilot's intentions and stow the aircraft stably and neatly in a specific security envelope. TRI calls this "Blended Envelope Control", an approach in which the Guardian driver assistance system combines and coordinates the capabilities of the human driver and the vehicle on which he drives.
TRI boss Gill Pratt unveiled the progress research group on Monday at CES 201
TRI and Toyota then adopted a dual approach to autonomy, which they call "Guardian" and "Chauffeur". "The automaker intends to ultimately develop and deploy fully autonomous cars to serve an aging population, the disabled, or whoever needs a robotic taxi. As Pratt noted on Monday, however, much remains to be done before these types of vehicles can be used effectively.
Meanwhile, Pratt says, "We have a moral obligation to use automated vehicle technology to save as many lives as possible as quickly as possible.
This is where the other part of this dual approach called Guardian comes into play. Guardian is a technology that works in the background and acts as needed. The driver always drives, but Guardian watches, detects and anticipates problems.
Toyota Guardian is intended to reinforce human control of the vehicle, not replace it, says the company. TRI showed a video about a three-car accident during the CES presentation in which one of its self-propelled research vehicles was driven in manual mode. However, the sensors of the vehicle were all in the process of collecting data.
TRI claims that Guardian's Combined Envelope approach anticipated or identified the pending incident and used corrective action in coordination with driver input. In this particular case, the modeling and testing by TRI found that the system had caused the vehicle to rush out of the way to avoid the accident altogether.