Toyota Unveils Car With Autopilot System
Toyota has unveiled the next generation of cars featuring an autopilot system that will swerve to avoid collisions without drivers touching the wheel.
The Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA) system lets vehicles communicate wirelessly to avoid running into each other while keeping the car in the middle of the road, regardless of how many twists and turns lie ahead.
Although rivals Nissan and Google have been designing self-driving cars for a while, Toyota's AHDA technology could be available to consumers in a few years.
Toyota managing director Moritaka Yoshida said: "These advanced driving-support technologies prevent human errors, reduce driving stress and help drivers avert accidents, which has a big potential to reduce the number of traffic deaths."
While drivers will need to remain alert and in general control of their vehicle, the new technology lets them leave most of the work to the autopilot.
The latest collision-avoidance system has doubled the detection time of oncoming objects to four seconds from a previous two seconds, according to Toyota.
The Japanese giant has already introduced the pre-collision braking assist system in its Lexus luxury sedan and plans to install it in other models by 2015, with the other technologies to follow.
"Cars with these technologies recognise the accelerating or slowing speed of those ahead, which also helps avoid traffic jams," said project manager Mitsuhisa Shida.
"They can wirelessly exchange data once every 0.1 seconds."
Toyota said the innovation will be especially helpful for older people.
Japan's over-65s already make up around a quarter of the country's population of 128 million people.