Toyota is going all-in on autonomous vehicles, announcing Thursday plans to open a centre this year to test driving scenarios too dangerous to perform on public roads.
The new test centre, which will be operated by the Toyota Research Institute, will be built in Ottawa Lake, Michigan, outside Detroit and not far from Toyota’s engineering centre, the company said in a statement.
“By constructing a course for ourselves, we can design it around our unique testing needs and rapidly advance capabilities,” said Ryan Eustice, TRI senior vice president of automated driving. “This new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash,” he said in a statement.
Automakers have begun to test autonomous or automated vehicles on public roads in the United States but have become more cautious in the wake of a fatal crash in Arizona of a self-driving car operated by Uber’s research unit. The new test centre is due to open in October on a 60-acre site that will include congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps. The company did not disclose the cost of the project.
Toyota said it will continue to test autonomous vehicles at two other test tracks near Detroit, which include real-world driving situations.