For years, Honda has been showcasing the advances made by its ASIMO humanoid robots at auto shows and press events around the world. But now close automotive rival Toyota is going one better for the Tokyo Motor Show by unveiling a Toyota Prius that can drive itself.
One of many advanced technology vehicles on display on Toyota’s futuristic stand at next week’s show, the autonomous Prius is based upon the 2012 Toyota Prius Hybrid, and features what Toyota calls the Automatic Vehicle Operation System, or AVOS.
Capable of reacting to road conditions to avoid obstacles and reach its destination without incident, the AVOS system is like having an autopilot for your car, much likethe futuristic Knight Industries Two Thousand from the 80s TV show Knight Rider.
And while the AVOS system will feature its own silent running mode courtesy of the Prius’ EV mode switch, we don’t think it will share KITT’s ejector seats, medical scanner or laser powerpack.
One neat feature we do like from Toyota’s AVOS system is the ability to let your car park itself, allowing you to bask in valet parking glory next time you go out for the evening without having to pay those heavy tips.
Overall, Toyota’s system looks to be a little more consumer-friendly than the self-driving Prii that Google has developed over the past few years, although we'd love to see both cars go head-to-head in a DARPA-style challenge.
While visitors to the Tokyo Motor Show are waiting for a back-seat ride in the AVOS-equipped Toyota Prius, they’ll be able to look at the rest of Toyota’s high-tech stand.
Including smart-grid equipped plug-in hybrids as well as electric bicycles and scooters capable of communicating with one another as part of an interconnected transport system,Toyota’s stand emphasizes a plugged-in transportation future that includes plug-in hybrids, pure electric and two-wheeled transport living together in harmony.
Interestingly, this year’s stand seems to pay little attention to Toyota’s other future technology love -- hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Does Toyota’s stand at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show mark a change of direction for the world’s largest automaker, or is it yet another future vision that will never see the light of day?