The race towards full self-driving vehicles rages on, with Lexus entering the fray.
The luxury automaker announced this week that they will launch a “hands-off” driver assist feature in one of their vehicles later this year. According to Automotive News Europe, the technology will be able to automatically change lanes and pass other cars on the highway.
Koji Sato, the international president of Lexus, unveiled the new plans at a press event in Europe this week. The system, which seems to rival the “Super Cruise” tech of Cadillac, will also feature over-the-air updates. There’s a potential that it will be eventually upgraded to Level 3 autonomous driving.
Lexus didn’t reveal which models would ship with the new feature. They also were mum on which countries it would debut in.
Lexus has been working on this for a while. Their LS+ concept car featured “Highway Teammate” semi-autonomous driving. It was first displayed back in 2017. CarAndDriver also previously reported that Lexus was working with the government of Japan to map out all the roads in the country. That could be a sign that Lexus will debut their new tech in Japan first, with other locations to follow.
Sato stated the new features would begin as Level 2 autonomous driving. He did not have a timeline for when a Level 3 update would be available.
The rush to completely autonomous vehicles is happening, but it’s not without roadblocks. Tesla has been criticized for naming its features “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” when they still require a completely attentive driver who is able to take over at any moment. Governments around the world are struggling to figure out exactly how to legislate for self-driving vehicles. Insurance companies have also struggled to adapt to the technology. They now have a whole new set of variables to figure out when it comes to providing coverage or paying out claims related to driver assist features.