Toyota is using automated vehicle technology during an evaluation of new vehicles known as rough-road durability testing.
Rough road durability testing for Toyota’s North American vehicles is conducted on a course in Michigan that the company specifically engineered with potholes, dips and other defects precisely placed along the track surface.
These conditions inflict all the road-induced punishment that the average vehicle encounters during its lifetime into a single, bone-jarring evaluation.
In the past, engineers and technicians tasked with performing the evaluations were subjected to a very uncomfortable ride as they continuously circled the pothole-filled track.
The human role in this test, however, wasn’t to provide feedback on handling characteristics, but to simply drive the vehicle at specific speeds over the horribly bumpy course.
They would do this repeatedly, day-after-day, until the vehicle accumulated the necessary mileage.
But don’t let the term ‘automated’ mislead you.
While this test vehicle is indeed “self-driving”, it was uniquely designed for testing purposes using a combination of computers, actuators, levers, other mechanicals, and a lot of engineering know-how.
In fact, the system doesn’t utilize any of Avalon’s
many advanced driver assistance or navigation features, nor any of the advanced LIDAR, sensors, and cameras used by the autonomous vehicles being developed by Toyota Research Institute (TRI).