Toyota is to start testing its automated driving (AD) technology on public roads with the launch of a programme that will trial its in-house developed systems around the streets of Brussels. For the next 13 months, a Lexus LS will make repeated journeys around a fixed route in the Belgian capital. The new test programme follows successful simulations and trials on closed circuits and previous public road tests in Japan and the USA.

Gerard Killmann, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) Vice President Research and Development told Connected Car: “Within Toyota’s global operations, TME’s Brussels R&D facility is the regional centre of excellence for computer vision – making computers ‘see and understand’ the environment around them.  Toyota’s ultimate goal is zero casualties from traffic accidents, and the main goal of this pilot is to study complex and unpredictable human behaviour and its impact on automated driving system requirements.”

The Lexus LS that’s being used in the test is a standard production model and it will be driven on regular, open roads. The key difference is that it is fitted with a roof-mounted array of sensors, including LIDAR, radars, cameras and a high-precision positioning system. A safety driver will travel in the car and can intervene and overrule the AD vehicle control system at any time. They will be accompanied by an operator who will supervise the entire system.

Toyota has undertaken months of thorough preparations to bring the car to the open road, validating the AD system, training the drivers, analysing the route and engaging with the authorities to gain the necessary approvals.

European L3Pilot

The automated vehicle will also be used to collect data as part of Toyota’s involvement in the European L3Pilot project alongside 34 other partners, including a number of major car manufacturers, automotive suppliers, research institutes and authorities. The L3Pilot is a four-year European project, launched in 2017 and partly funded by the European Commission. The project paves the way for large-scale AD field testing of around 100 cars and 1,000 drivers across 10 European countries. Within this framework, TME says that it will concentrate on researching customer behaviours and the safe operation of systems in complex and diverse urban environments.