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Toyota CEO: No Fully Autonomous Cars Anytime Soon

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Jim Lentz Toyota

Toyota CEO Jim Lentz

When you think of autonomous driving, you might envision a time in the not-too-distant future where you can be driven around by your car without any input from you or another driver. In fact, many automakers are planning for that eventuality in the next five or so years. But Toyota sees things differently, and wants to concentrate on using self-driving technology to help increase mobility for disabled and elderly drivers, as well as teach drivers how to navigate the roads more safely.

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“Our belief is that a human driver must always be behind the wheel,” explained Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit yesterday. “We don’t see a day coming soon where you can just hop in the back seat, pull out your newspaper and scan the headlines while your car takes you to work.”

Toyota will instead be using the findings from its new artificial intelligence research to create technologies that will work with the driver to create a safer driving environment. Toyota’s decision to concentrate its efforts here, rather than on fully autonomous cars, stems from the fact that some 96% of fatal car accidents are the result of driver error. Toyota’s autonomous driving technology will help prevent these incidences through collision mitigation.

“If there’s a way that we can override some poor decisions that are made, we are going to save a lot of lives and we won’t have accidents to begin with,” concluded Lentz.

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News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)