Toyota’s road to autonomy relies on human drivers

As Cruise, Waymo and others test self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco, Toyota is testing other approaches to autonomy at a racetrack 150 miles northeast.

Why it matters: Today’s self-driving vehicles navigate big-city streets at slow speeds, but it could take decades before those cars can handle much higher speeds or we can add autonomous capabilities to privately owned cars.

What they’re saying: “Scaling [full self-driving] technology to be available to everyone everywhere all the time is actually really, really hard,” said Avinash Balachandran, senior director of the Human Interactive Driving division at Toyota’s Los Altos, California-based Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

The big picture: Toyota’s full self-driving approach relies on human drivers to handle some — or even most — of the tasks, with the autonomous part kicking in only when it detects intervention is needed.

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