It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that Toyota will choose to put autonomous technology in the Lexus brand before it trickles down to the vehicles that wear the Toyota badge like the Camry or Corolla. This follows along the same lines of other brands we’ve seen, but, for the most part, only from brands that don’t have a mainstream arm to go along with the luxury models offered. Adding autonomy at higher levels makes more sense because the higher price and expectation of the Lexus brand makes it the right place to start and build on what we’ll see in the future.
As the automaker that has the most vehicles on the road in the world, Toyota would certainly have the knowledge needed to make sure the addition of the sensors, systems, computers, and programming that will be required to make autonomy a reality for the brand, can be added to the cars offered and be something that will add to the quality and performance of these models. Because of the cost of these added items, the luxury customers are more likely to spend more to drive the cars that come with the Lexus badge on the front of the car.
When Will This Be a Reality in the Lexus?
Toyota is continuing to develop and create the qualities, features, and technology that will bring autonomy to the roads. Their current goal is to offer Level 4 self-driving technology starting in the first half of the 2020 decade. While this might sound like Lexus is lagging behind other automakers when it comes to the technology offered, the fact is, this is the way Toyota has approached many of the different upgrades and advanced it’s made over the years and what has assisted in created the reputation for reliability and quality that Toyota has enjoyed for so long.
The focus for Toyota isn’t just involved in the self-driving features that can be offered at the luxury level of Lexus but on some of the other benefits the features developed can offer. They have put a strong emphasis on basic technologies such as lane-trace assist and systems that prevent the car and you as the driver from hitting the wrong pedal at the wrong time. By working to develop the self-driving technology needed, Toyota will be able to add some of the features to its entire lineup along the way to a fully autonomous model.
Another challenge the team faces when developing technology for the US roads is the lack of lane lines on many roads and the blurred lane markers that we see in many cases. The wide expanse of country and number of roads offered present unique challenges that will be faced by many automakers, not just Toyota. Even with this challenge, the Lexus LS will be offered with semi-autonomous features next year, but those features will be limited to the models offered in Japan. This has led to a separate development group for the US roads to aid in the advancement of the autonomous technology here.