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Lexus concept gives preview of safety gear

Toyota took the wraps off the highest-tech Lexus LS ever made at the International Consumer Electronics Show here last week.

With spinning sensors and probing lasers, the Advanced Safety Research Vehicle is meant to demonstrate safety features that could come to production cars soon.

The vehicle looks like some of the self-driving vehicles that have debuted recently, but Toyota stressed that a robot car is not the goal.

"While key components of these research efforts could lead to a fully autonomous car in the future, the vision is not necessarily a car that drives itself," a Toyota statement said. "Instead, Toyota and Lexus envision technologies that enhance the skills of the driver."

Those technologies include:

• A 360-degree laser on the roof that detects objects up to about 230 feet away.

• Three high-definition cameras that detect objects up to 500 feet away, including traffic lights and vehicles approaching from the side.

• One radar device on the front of the vehicle and three on the sides to measure the location and speed of objects.

• An indicator on a rear wheel that measures travel distance and speed.

• An inertial measurement unit on the roof to gauge acceleration and angle changes.

"The research vehicle is a testing platform aimed at the development of systems capable of enhancing the driver’s perception of their environment, assisting in the decision-making process and improving overall driving skills," Toyota said.

The vehicle also uses systems already on Toyota and Lexus models, such as lane-change, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warnings, antilock brakes and adaptive cruise control.

Some of the most advanced components will allow the car to use short wave signals to communicate with other vehicles and with roadside sensors.

"In our pursuit of developing more advanced automated technologies, we believe the driver must be fully engaged," said Mark Templin, general manager of Lexus Division. "For Toyota and Lexus, a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving."

24.January 2013