Toyota plans to first deploy its advanced autonomous driving features in commercial vehicles before rolling them out in passenger cars meant for personal use. This is because it is easier to implement the technology in vehicles which do not require constant human monitoring, such as taxis and non-passenger vehicles, said chief of Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD) James Kuffner.

The Japanese automaker is developing autonomous driving technology for segments such as on-demand ride services, mobile shops and ambulatory hospitals, the report said. The operators of these vehicles will be able to control when and where the vehicles are being deployed and for overseeing their maintenance, Kuffner told Automotive News Europe.

“It will take more time to achieve Level 4 (autonomous capabilities) for a personally owned vehicle. Level 4 is really what we are striving for to first appear in mobility as a service,” Kuffner said. Level 4 self-driving is a high level of automation where the vehicle takes over longer stretches of a given journey; for a detailed explanation on what the various autonomous driving levels mean, read our feature article here.

The Lexus P4 autonomous driving prototype

Toyota and its suppliers are adopting a ‘long view’ towards vehicles with autonomous technology and artificial intelligence (AI) than many of its competitors are doing with their vehicles that are already on the market with autonomous highway driving, the report said; Denso is among Toyota’s suppliers, and also invests in TRI-AD. Read our drive report of the self-driving abilities in the the 2018 Lexus LS500h, here.

The Toyota Research Institute revealed the Lexus LS500h-based P4 autonomous driving prototype at the beginning of this year ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which was set to be used for developing the company’s Guardian and Chauffeur systems.

The development of autonomous driving technology has been fraught with incidents. A fatal crash involving a Tesla Model X in April 2018, while another fatality involving a pedestrian and a self-driving Uber development vehicle occurred when it was in autonomous mode.