Toyota Advances Self Driving Cars By Studying Human Drivers

August 4th, 2016 by

Toyota is working hard to build self-driving vehicles, and the automaker is investing heavily in the technology. While other companies are very confident in their ability to get this technology out to the market, Toyota remains a bit more reserved about its changes. The automaker knows that it’s a massive effort and that huge amounts of data have to be collected and synthesized about driving in order for cars to start operating themselves. That’s something the automaker is working hard on, but it still remains reserved about its plans to get these features out to the public, which is a sign that the company will eventually be successful creating self-driving cars.

Toyota Data Center

Gathering All the Data

In order to teach cars to drive themselves, you need a whole lot of data. Data about the roads, data about how vehicles interact with one another and data about roadway rules. This has to be collected on a massive scale to be useful, because there are variations from one driver to another and from one section of the country to another.
In order to assemble the massive amount of data needed for effective teaching and advancing Toyota is drawing from the pools of its own customers. Collecting essential driving data through its own apps and media systems to find out exactly how people drive their vehicles.
The automaker already has a massive data center going up in Plano Texas within the Toyota Connected facility. The Toyota Global Big Data Center as it’s to be known is a monstrous facility that’s going to hold the company’s major data from all around the world. It’s a hub where data can be assembled and then synthesized to be used for learning purposes.

How the Data is Gathered

Toyota is currently using a couple of different methods to gather up all the valuable data that it can. Each of the cars comes with sensors that give vehicle information such as speed and direction. There are also LIDAR, radar and camera systems on some of the newer vehicles. These systems are picking up information about vehicles and their surroundings as they travel around through the roads around the world. Toyota is watching how vehicles operate individually, but even more importantly how they operate when around one another. There is a social aspect to driving, and it’s different depending on where you live. The vehicles need to understand car and person interaction at each location to know how to drive and maneuver properly in general.

Synthesizing the Data

Toyota is working hard to release a slew of safety and autonomous features for its vehicles, and each one of these features depends heavily on all the research that the company is able to gather from the environment. High quality maps, decent traffic laws and reaction rules are all based on information taken from drivers currently out on the roads. If you get a car with adaptive cruise it relies on data to operate effectively and offer you the best blend of features.
More complex features that are released in the future will rely even more heavily on all these rules and the information gathered, which is why Toyota is putting such a strong emphasis on getting as much valuable data as it can today.

Training Cars

Machines learn through a series of examples, not by rules. That means to train a car to drive properly it needs to be shown millions of different driver scenario examples that it can learn from. That’s what Toyota is doing with information recordings from drivers all over the world. Putting together important examples that are all feeding the brain that will hopefully someday confidently travel around the road while keeping drivers even safer.

Releasing Improved Driver Assist Systems

Toyota plans on releasing increasingly advanced driver assist systems to drivers around the country. The systems will start out handling only a small number of driving scenarios such as long-distance highway driving where things are quite monotonous. Later on the systems become more advanced and will handle more varied driving conditions, until one day drivers don’t have to operate vehicles at all to reach their destinations.
That major data center held by Toyota is going to be an instrumental part of creating actual self-driving vehicles, and it’s something the automaker is working very hard on currently.

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