Autonomous driving is boring? The Toyota Research Institute would beg to differ. In a bid to showcase it has reached a new milestone in the development of driverless tech, TRI programmed a purpose-built Supra to burn rubber without human input. The company is proud to say this hands-free coupe is the first vehicle in the world to successfully complete a drift course around obstacles. Of course, the demonstration took place on a closed track.
Although there was someone in the driver's seat, all he did was use the "Engage" switch on the center console. This Supra is quite a bit smarter than the one you'll find at your Toyota dealer since it's fitted with what TRI refers to as "Nonlinear Model Predictive Control (NMPC)." It enables the car to perform autonomous drifts and showcase it is able to act fast and perform evasive maneuvers to avoid obstacles. In addition, it can also maintain control of the vehicle on slippery surfaces such as black ice.
Gallery: Autonomous Toyota Supra
If the vehicle looks a bit familiar, there's a good reason for that. It has been modified in such a way as to resemble the Formula Drift version. From the engine and transmission to the suspension and safety kit, the tail-happy Supra was tweaked to echo the drift-happy race car. The hands-free demonstration took place at Thunderhill Raceway in California, specifically on the two-mile "West" track.
The tire-slaying Zupra has computers controlling everything: steering, throttle, clutch, and the sequential transmission. Toyota explains the project came together with help from the Dynamic Design Lab at Stanford University while GReddy and professional drifter Ken Gushi helped out as well.
Needless to say, the ultimate goal is to reach full autonomy, but that’s still a long way to go. In fact, former Waymo CEO John Krafcik went as far as to say level 5 will probably never happen.
Mercedes is the first automaker to receive level 3 global certification, available for the S-Class and EQS. However, Honda got it first early last year, but only in Japan for a lease-only version of the Legend sedan.
PS: At the 0:18 mark, you can see a pre-facelift Genesis G70.