The future is here, and it has incredibly good eyesight.
Ahead of next week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Toyota has unveiled the newest iteration of its self-driving test vehicle. Dubbed “Platform 3.0” by the automaker, the test vehicle – a Lexus LS 600hL – is equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), radar, and camera arrays.
According to Luminar, the California-based manufacturer responsible for the LIDAR system, Platform 3.0 now has a 200-meter range around a 360-degree perimeter, making it more powerful than the system designed by Luminar’s competitor Velodyne. The upgraded LIDAR system has led Toyota to praise Platform 3.0 as “one of the most perceptive automated driving test cars on the road.”
For the moment, self-driving cars still appear to be a little ways away from becoming a viable means of transportation for the average consumer. A recent article from the Washington Post put the price tag for the kind of LIDAR system that allows for total driverless capabilities around $75,000, far beyond what the average consumer is willing – or able – to spend.
However, as the technology itself continues to evolve, the costs associated with its implementation will lower. And given Platform 3.0’s increased range, it’s only a matter of time before the benefits offered by self-driving cars outweigh those costs. And for those of you concerned about personal safety, Platform 3.0 portends a future where you’re never truly alone, because your car will be watching you. Silently. Waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Production of Platform 3.0 vehicles will begin this spring; I, for one, welcome our self-driving robot overlords.
[via The Verge]