Toyota Announces Focus on Safety, No Driverless Car
While automakers (and technology companies) across the world are working on being the first to develop driverless cars, Toyota has officially taken itself out of the running in order to focus on safety in cars. This announcement was made by Seigo Kuzumaki, deputy chief safety technology officer, at Toyota’s advanced safety seminar in Michigan earlier this week.
Much like Toyota’s announcement back in June that it would be nixing electric vehicle technology in favor of developing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, this news might come as a shock to those who are pretty confident about how to future of the automobile might look. We’ve been told that electric cars are the way of the future, and we’ve been told that driverless cars will help make our commutes easier and more enjoyable. But Toyota doesn’t think that driverless technology will be marketable to a wide range of customers, which is what it would take for the technology to become successful and profitable in the long-term.
Ken Koibuchi, head of Toyota’s intelligent vehicle division, had this to say:
At this moment, it is difficult to realize the driverless car safely. To realize driverless car at this moment, we need a very rich infrastructure.
In choosing to concentrate of safety innovations rather than driverless cars, Toyota hopes to create a collaborative dynamic between human and computer that will make the road a safer place. On that subject, Kristin Tabar, vice president at the Toyota Technical Center, commented that humans and computers both have weaknesses, and that they could augment each other, but one couldn’t make the other obsolete.
Toyota’s approach certainly makes sense in the short- to mid-term, but in the long-term, will the brand regret not paying more attention to driverless technology? Only time will tell.