The power of advanced AI-assisted driving systems

While many are striving for driverless vehicles, TRI's HID team is firmly committed to active safety systems that elevate human drivers' engagement

In the area of automotive technology, the development of autonomous vehicles has dominated recent advancements. However, Toyota Research Institute's (TRI) Human Interactive Driving (HID) team is taking a different approach, focusing on active safety systems that empower human drivers rather than replace them. This strategy aims to create a safer and more enjoyable driving experience by leveraging the strengths of both human intelligence and artificial intelligence.

TRI hosted a media event to unveil its new Accelerated Concepts program, a focused initiative aimed at the rapid development and implementation of advanced safety technologies. The program will bring together a team of world-class researchers and engineers to tackle some of the most pressing challenges in automotive safety, to bring life-saving innovations to market faster than ever before. 

Empowering human drivers

Active safety systems utilise a range of sensors and algorithms to monitor the vehicle's surroundings and intervene when necessary to prevent accidents. Examples of active safety features include lane departure warning (LDW), which alerts the driver when the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of its lane, automatic emergency braking (AEB), where the brakes are applied automatically to avoid or mitigate a collision, and adaptive cruise control (ACC), which maintains a safe distance from the preceding vehicle, adjusting speed as needed.

TRI's HID team is developing advanced active safety systems that go beyond these basic functions. Their goal is to create AI-powered assistants that seamlessly integrate with human drivers, providing real-time guidance and support. This collaborative approach aims to enhance the overall driving experience, making it safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

TRI CEO Gill Pratt says: “Safety is a top priority for Toyota. Our human-centred approach is discovering better, safer ways for humans and AI to collaborate. We’re amplifying people by building models that predict drivers’ actions, developing AI that enhances driver performance.”

Enhancing driver engagement and satisfaction

By keeping the driver engaged and in control, TRI's HID team believes that active safety systems can foster a more satisfying driving experience. Rather than feeling like passengers in their vehicles, drivers will remain active participants in the driving process, benefitting from the insights and capabilities of AI without relinquishing autonomy.

This approach aligns with TRI's vision of "Symbiosis Autonomy," where humans and machines work together in a harmonious partnership to achieve optimal outcomes. In the context of driving, Symbiosis Autonomy translates into a seamless collaboration between the driver and the vehicle's AI-powered systems.

Each research vehicle and simulator showcased a diverse range of technologies developed under the Human Interactive Driving (HID) team's three core research pillars:

The first was human-focused learning, which uses data-driven machine-learning techniques to create models of human behaviour. From driver awareness to action and intent, these models ensure that the technology will understand drivers and support them in the most natural way possible.

The second was driver/vehicle performance and safety, with the team seeking to build expert-level driving skills with AI. Equipping AI with expert driving skills is crucial for developing autonomous technology that can assist drivers in avoiding accidents under challenging circumstances.

The final component is shared autonomy, where AI and drivers work together for a safer and more enjoyable driving experience. Participants had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of TRI's custom-built Global Research Innovation Platform (GRIP), a cutting-edge research vehicle equipped with four-wheel steering and in-wheel electric motors, designed to accelerate driving research. GRIP's unique capabilities, including in-car dynamics emulation, enable the creation of new scenarios for driver training within a safe and controlled environment.

The future of human-interactive driving

TRI's HID team is at the forefront of developing next-generation active safety systems that will revolutionise the driving experience. Their research holds immense promise for creating safer, more enjoyable, and more efficient transportation systems. 

As AI technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more sophisticated human-interactive driving systems that further enhance the relationship between humans and their vehicles.

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