Lexus Highway Teammate technology allows hands off. It can be updated to have more autonomy.
Lexus will launch a car this year that will support hands-free driving this year. This information was revealed by international president Koji Sato at a press event in Europe. The upcoming Lexus system will automatically change lanes and pass vehicles on the highway.
The system sounds a bit like Cadillac’s hands-off Super Cruise driver assistance, which was recently upgraded to enable automatic lane changes.
Sato didn’t share any details about which model would support the feature or which region it would be available in. In 2017, Lexus showed the LS+ concept (pictured ab0ve), which featured Highway Teammate semi-autonomous driving technology. At the time, C/D reported Lexus was is working with the Japanese government to map all of that country’s highways to prepare for the technology, meaning it was likely it would be rolled out in Japan first.
In a press event, Sato shared information about the scheduled introduction. Sato said it will start at level 2, but it will have updates online so we can update the level in the future. It’s not clear whether the vehicles will ship with Level 2 with hands-off support and then be upgradable to Level 3, or if Sato sees the hands-off feature as a Level 2+ feature that won’t be available at launch.
Audi customers have not been offered a pilot of a level 3 traffic jam on the 2018 model. The reason given is that the car manufacturer cannot get approval from regulators. Level 3 offers hands-off and eyes-off driving under very specific conditions but requires the driver to be able to take over control at a moment’s notice.
In 2017, Lexus unveiled an LS concept with autonomous technology. That same year, the automaker noted that it was uneasy about the handoff between vehicle and human during Level 3 driving.