Welcome to Thomas Insights — every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what’s happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
Toyota has developed a vehicle safety technology that has such potential to save lives, the automaker claims it “felt compelled to share it with any company that would like to use it.”
Announced at CES, the Guardian is an automated safety system built using the same technology being used in driverless cars and modern fighter jets.
Dubbed a “super-advanced” driver assist system, it works using radar and camera systems, as well as light-reflecting Lidar, to help create a "bubble" around the vehicle, says Ryan Eustice, senior VP of automated driving at the Toyota Research Institute.
The company has been working on the tech for several years and says that it is designed to take over when a driver is distracted or impaired. It actually can analyze the driver’s intention, and, if that’s not going to cut it, can then identify the safest pathway to avoid collisions. Possible scenarios include avoiding a crash or evading an oncoming vehicle that’s running a red light. The technology is also designed to assist drivers during complicated maneuvers, such as navigating hairpin curves on mountain roads.
Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, told a crowd at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that the company was trying to think of the good of society, and didn’t plan to keep the technology proprietary because of the immense impact it could have in saving some of the 1.3 million lives lost each year on global highways.
And while it sounds selfless, Bloomberg says making Guardian available via licensing, or selling the system to other OEMs, could mean mega royalties for Toyota as the market for self-driving tech hits multi-trillion-dollar thresholds. With 90% of roads deaths are reportedly caused by human error, surely most of us would approve of Toyota making money hand over fist if it meant making a dent into that statistic.