Lexus LS+ Concept previews fully autonomous urban driving within 10 years

The LS+ Concept showcases the Lexus ‘Highway Teammate’ system that allows the car to self-drive.
James Cleary
Deputy Editor
CarsGuide

25 Oct 2017 • 4 min read

Lexus has unveiled a concept version of a future-generation LS luxury sedan, previewing sophisticated ‘Level 4’ autonomous driving technology the Japanese maker says will be available in production cars by 2025.

The LS+ Concept showcases the Lexus ‘Highway Teammate’ system that allows the car to self-drive “on specific car-only highways, such as from the on-ramp to the exit of expressways."

Lexus says the concept fully automates nearly all driving operations in these conditions, including merging into highway traffic, lane keeping, speed adjustments, lane changes, overtaking and maintaining vehicle-to-vehicle distance.

'Highway Teammate' tech is scheduled for a production debut in 2020. 'Highway Teammate' tech is scheduled for a production debut in 2020.

It also previews the brand’s ‘Urban Teammate’ technology, a ‘Level 4’ autonomous system using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to adapt to surrounding vehicles and driving conditions in less predictable areas.

Speaking with CarsGuide at this week’s Tokyo motor show, Lexus LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi, confirmed the new Highway Teammate tech is scheduled for a production debut in 2020, and the company’s aim is to introduce Urban Teammate tech by 2025.

‘Level 4’ represents the fourth of five autonomous driving level definitions agreed by the world’s key automotive brands.

Vehicles with Level 4 autonomous ability are designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip, but critically, does not cover every driving scenario.

When questioned about the viability of the Urban Teammate introduction date, Asahi-san said, “Who is responsible [the car or driver] for safety-critical decisions will become quite complicated at level three and four.”

“But we are confident our Level 4 vehicles will be able to co-exist with non-autonomous cars,” he said.

The LS+ Concept takes the brand's 'L-finesse' design philosophy to new heights. The LS+ Concept takes the brand's 'L-finesse' design philosophy to new heights.

The LS+ Concept takes the brand’s ‘L-finesse’ design philosophy to new heights, and is fractionally longer, wider and lower than the soon-to-be launched LS 500 production car.

Future ideas incorporated in the luxury sedan’s dramatic design include partly laser-lit head and tail-lights, as well as electronic exterior mirrors.

Do you want to hang on to the wheel, or are you happy for Lexus to take over? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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