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Drivers Obsolete? Toyota to showcase driverless Prius at 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota is set to debut a few special Prius cars at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. However, it won't be another redesign or update of the popular hybrid car, these cars will be completely autonomous, making you, the driver, obsolete!

The Toyota Smart Mobility Park exhibit will feature the Toyota AVOS (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), a self-driving version of the Prius. Test drives will be conducted at the show, and will demonstrate first hand how the Prius can drive around obstacles in its way, and park itself. The AVOS can even be called up from a parking garage, meaning valet parking is built into the vehicle. That would be really convenient if you park in the farthest reaches of a parking garage or parking lot.

The Tokyo Motor Show will have a special area called "Smart Mobility City 2011.” The Toyota Smart Mobility Park will be part of that, and it will showcase what technology can and will bring in the near future. It will also demonstrate how our transportation infrastructure and power infrastructure are going to be integrally related to each other.

Toyota's display will involve not only demonstrations of the Toyota AVOS, but safety advancements as well. Toyota will showcase "Vehicle-Infrastructure Cooperative Systems" which links vehicles on the road with each and traffic systems so they can communicate. One particular demonstration, which is sure to make consumers happy, is the accident mitigation system.

Additionally Toyota will show next-gen charging stations, that are fitted with solar panels and wind turbines for powering cars, while being environment-friendly. These systems will be managed by the “Toyota Smart Center energy management system.” This acts as a hub that for transportation and car-sharing systems.

Google, the internet search giant, has also been working on it's own driver-less system, using Prius cars. Google has already logged over 140,000 miles in real world driving with their driver-less cars.. The Google project is not affiliated with Toyota though. The Toyota AVOS vehicles Toyota will be showcasing, are built and developed solely by Toyota.

The field of driver-less automobiles is widening. Stanford University won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge with “Stanley” in 2005. DARPA took place across 132 miles in the Mojave Desert and Stanford won $2 million from the US . Sebastian Thrun, who was the leader of “Stanley”, is also leading the development of the Google driver-less cars. Tartan Racing, backed by General Motors, won the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge in 2007.

With 1.3 million deaths from car accidents around the world, and growing each year, the need for safer cars is apparent. Making driver-less vehicles will take out the human error associated with driving.

In the coming years a head start in autonomous driver-less vehicle technology may be critical for gaining an edge over competitors. This technology will be great for those that don't like the “chore” of driving. Of course car enthusiasts, that love driving, might be feeling a bit antiquated when this technology takes hold.

Please contact Adam Yamada-Hanff – [email protected] – for comments, questions, or topics. You can also follow him on Twitter @AdamsAutoAdvice