Toyota using more cameras, less sensors to reduce cost, speed up autonomous driving tech development

Toyota, through its subsidiary Woven Planet, is working to progress the development of autonomous vehicle technology by employing low-cost cameras for the collection of data, according to Reuters. According to Woven Planet, the ability to use low-cost cameras is a breakthrough that the manufacturer hopes will reduce costs.

The gathering of diverse driving data from a large fleet of vehicles is crucial to developing a robust self-driving car system, however the exercise is costly and not scalable to use expensive sensors in the testing of the autonomous vehicles, Woven Planet told Reuters in an interview.

“We need a lot of data. And it’s not sufficient to just have a small amount of data that can be collected from a small fleet of very expensive autonomous vehicles. Rather, we’re trying to demonstrate that we can unlock the advantage that Toyota and a large automaker would have, which is a large corpus of data, but with a much lower fidelity,” Woven Planet vice president of engineering Michael Benisch told the news wire.

Toyota using more cameras, less sensors to reduce cost, speed up autonomous driving tech development

A large proportion of data coming from the lower-cost cameras increased the autonomous driving system’s performance to a level similar to when the system was being trained exclusively on data from more expensive sensors, Woven Planet said, and the firm uses cameras which are 90% cheaper than the sensors used previously, and which can be easily installed in fleets of passenger vehicles, according to Reuters.

That said, Toyota will continue to use sensors for lidar and radar for robotaxis and other autonomous vehicles that will be deployed on roads because this remains the best and safest approach for the development of robotaxis, Benisch said.

The Japanese automaker has also been working with Aurora in the testing of an autonomous ride-hailing fleet featuring units of the Toyota Sienna outfitted with lidar and radar sensors as well as cameras. Toyota previously held a stake in the self-driving vehicle unit of Uber, although this was transferred when Uber sold the unit.

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