Plano, Texas - This video from the Toyota Research Institute shows the first demonstration of its combined Guardian and Chauffeur autonomous vehicle platform.
The self-driving car is called Platform 2.1 - simply because it combines two different applications of autonomous driving - Chauffeur and Guardian, in the same car, using the same hardware and software.
Chauffeur, as the name suggests, does all the driving for you; you just sit back and relax. The first two scenarios show the car driving itself on a closed test track at the Plano laboratory, avoiding haybales falling off the back of a bakkie in front of it, and then braking and tucking in behind the car in the left lane because there’s a stationary vehicle in the right lane.
Guardian mode is for when you want to drive the car yourself, an electronic Big Brother that can tell when you’re getting tired and, if you don’t respond to its warnings, take over and drive the car for you until you gently tap the brake to tell it you want to take back control.
In another demonstration, when the vehicle ahead of you swerves to avoid an obstacle in the road, it assesses the situation almost instantaneously and, in this case, opts to follow the car ahead in swerving around the obstacle.
This - however carefully staged - is an example of a scenario in which a self-driving car performs better than a human driver is capable of; it’s the basis on which proponents of self-driving cars say they will help to reduce crashes.