Toyota and Lexus Join Tesla and GM in Level 2 Semi-Autonomous Driving Fray

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The new tech is available exclusively in Japan for the moment, but a form of this new system will arrive on U.S.-market, all-wheel-drive Lexus LS sedans this fall under the “Lexus Teammate” label. Here, Teammate-equipped LSs will feature an advanced form of lane keep assist, along with hands-off acceleration, braking, and steering in the right conditions. Depending on what settings inputs from the driver, the LS will follow the vehicle ahead in the lane, navigate interchanges, traffic jams, and change lanes.

There are little functions built-in aimed at increasing trust and comfort of the driver, like moving the car slightly to the outside of a lane when bordered by a passing semi-truck, or consideration for merging vehicles. Toyota is quick to express that this is not a full autonomous system, and still relies heavily on driver attention and interaction for complete operation.

To that end, a driver monitor camera keeps a virtual eye on the driver’s posture, driving position, head direction, and whether or not the driver is looking forward on the road. If not, a visual and audible warning will sound to keep occupants alert. If the driver fails to interact with the system after a set series of warnings, the system will assume there is a medical emergency, causing it to slow down to a complete stop safely, turn the hazard lights on, dial emergency services, and unlock the doors for first responders.

It seems the included hardware won’t be outdated soon, either; cars equipped with Advanced Drive—and/or Lexus Teammate—are eligible for over-the-air updates that eventually may incorporate new features.

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