Toyota moves Lexus LS to a higher level of automation

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The new technology, marketed as Lexus Teammate, is an outgrowth of the Mobility Teammate concept Toyota has been working on for years.

In a statement last week, Lexus said the new setup will debut in a midcycle freshening of the flagship LS sedan, which also gets new interior flourishes and a smoother, quieter ride.

Toyota signaled last year that it would deploy the technology in a production car in 2020. At that time, James Kuffner, the head of Toyota’s automated driving program, said his team aimed to develop the “most powerful supercomputer on wheels.”

The technology was prepared by Kuffner’s Tokyo-based Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development Inc.

Lexus Teammate, the company said, incorporates artificial intelligence and deep learning “for predicting and responding to various situations possibly encountered.”

The updated LS goes on sale in Japan later this year. Lexus declined to give further details about launches in other markets. Lexus Teammate is initially geared toward Japanese laws and regulations.

The system will underpin Toyota’s first Level 2 automated vehicle and is expected to use lidar technology developed partly with Denso Corp. That system will enable the Lexus to automatically change lanes, follow lanes and pass vehicles in highway driving.

Pictures of the new LS show black lidar scanners inset behind the front wheel wells, lending the look of brake cooling vents. Other lidar scanners are on the front and rear of the car.

One image depicts a pop-out washer showering the front lidar with two jets of water to keep it clean.

It is unclear whether Lexus Teammate will be offered standard or as an option on certain trims. But the media photos depicted the lidar sensors deployed in the hybrid LS.

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Saurabh Shukla

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