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The Look of Toyota’s new self-driving vehicle may surprise you

If you are expecting self-driving cars to look like the Google car, you may be mistaken.

Lexus has an operating self-driving car capable of highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp. The car is in the image at the top of the story. Yes, it is a Lexus GS sedan with modifications made to enable the automated driving. This is what self-driving cars will look like when they are available for sale.

Lexus’ technology is advanced, and the company along with parent Toyota, will be at the forefront of automation technology, just as it is presently with safety technology and green vehicle technology. However, those expecting a goof-ball mobile without crush zones, pedestrian safety design features (long hood vertical grill) and the ability to pass the mandated 4X vehicle weight roof structure, will be surprised to see that automated cars look like any other current street-legal car.

Toyota calls the automated technology Highway Teammate. BMW and Cadillac have similar technology ready to go. This past Spring, the author drove a Honda CRV about 10 miles on the highway without needing to steer or brake. The Honda was a standard CRV with the optional lane departure assist and adaptive cruise control.

Automated driving has already begun in the U.S. market and will incrementally roll out so that users become familiar with the technology in steps. Toyota recently funded a $50 million project with two of the world’s top engineering schools run by a former DARPA director to take the technology to the consumer.

Related Prior Story: Lexus promises self-driving cars by 2016