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Toyota: 'Look ma, no hands!'

2013-10-13 20:29

HANDS-FREE DRIVING: Toyota has displayed cars with auto-drive technology on a national highway in Japan. The technology will be ready within a few years. Image: AFP

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Mercedes-Benz sent its S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle along an historic route in Germany, demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous cars in Europe. The self-driving S-Class travelled 100km along a route previously set by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz 125 years earlier.

TOKYO, Japan - Toyota on Friday unveiled cars with an auto pilot system that will swerve to avoid a collision and also keep to the middle of a road lane without the driver touching the wheel.

The auto-drive technology could be available within a few years.

Toyota MD Moritaka Yoshida said at a presentation in Tokyo: "These advanced driving support technologies prevent human errors, reduce driving stress and help drivers avoid collisions.

'AVOID TRAFFIC JAMS'

Leading automakers and technology firms, among them Toyota, rival Nissan and Internet giant Google, have been working on self-driving and assisted-driving technology for years. However, Toyota said that while drivers would still need to be alert and take part in the driving process, they could essentially leave most of the work to computers.

The 'automated highway driving assist' system lets vehicles communicate by radio to avoid running into each other while keeping the car in the middle of the road lane - no matter how many twists and turns.

Project manager Mitsuhisa Shida added: "Cars with these technologies recognise the acceleration or slowing of those ahead, which also helps avoid traffic jams. They can wirelessly exchange data once every tenth of a second."

The company plans to install AHDA in its commercial models over the next few years.

Toyota has already introduced the pre-collision braking in Lexus products and plans to install it in other models by 2015, with the other technologies to follow. Many cars already have systems that give drivers a panoramic view to keep watch for nearby objects while parking itself.

The latest collision-avoidance system has doubled the detection time of oncoming objects to four seconds, Toyota added.

The automaker said such advances would be especially helpful for older people. Japan's society is rapidly aging with over-65s already making up around a quarter of the 128-million population.
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