Self-driving cars that anyone can buy are getting closer and closer, but for the moment, Toyota is more interested in developing autonomous “guardian angels” that help drivers rather than replace them.
Toyota’s top research executive Gill Pratt recently said that the automaker is approaching the concept of self-driving cars from two paths—one that removes the driver from the equation altogether and another that supports the driver instead.
That’s not to say that Toyota isn’t interested in making self-driving cars. However, properly functioning, production-ready autonomous vehicles are still a long ways off. In the meantime, developing a semi-autonomous “guardian angel” system is what Toyota sees as the best way to quickly reduce the 1.2 million traffic deaths that occur every year around the world.
“In the same way that antilock braking and emergency braking work, there is a virtual driver that is trying to make sure you don’t have an accident by temporarily taking control from you,” said Gill Pratt.