Toyota Motor Corp. is getting closer to autonomous cars. The company will begin to release a range of advanced active-safety systems to the masses next year.
The new or re-engineered technologies, unveiled Wednesday in Tokyo, encompass more sophisticated precrash braking packages, a better auto-parking feature, a next-generation auto-adjust headlamp and a vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication system.
Toyota will begin rolling out the technologies in early 2015, Chief Safety Technology Officer Moritaka Yoshida said.
Initial products, such as the auto-parking and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, will debut in Japan and later migrate to other markets, including the U.S. Others, including two precrash auto-braking packages, will be released in the U.S. as early as next year.
Toyota did not disclose pricing for the new systems, but the goal is to introduce affordable advanced safety technologies that can be deployed in mass-volume nameplates, Yoshida said.
Toyota is introducing the technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals. The systems are also basic building-block technologies that will underpin future autonomous cars.
Yoshida said automakers have reached a point of diminishing returns from improvements in passive systems such as stronger body frames and seat belts. Faster gains will come from technologies that prevent crashes, he said.
“There is a limit to reducing the number of fatalities through passive safety,” he said. “We must also focus on active safety.”