Toyota plans to show of its self-driving cars at the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo, a similar timeframe to most automakers. The Japanese government is hoping to have autonomous cars driving before that time, to help with the influx of visitors to the country.
Demonstrations will be held at the Odaiba waterfront area, where most of the Olympics will take place. Compared to the rest of Tokyo, the Odaiba area has large, straight boulevards and light traffic, making it the ideal place to preview and demonstrate the company’s self-driving capabilities.
“We want to show a high-spec technology as a showcase,” said Toyota’s executive general manager of autonomous driving, Ken Koibuchi, to Automotive News.
But how bold is Toyota?
Toyota expects the showcase to be a turning point for public perception of self-driving. At the moment, it does not see major public demonstrations as necessary, though the lack of publicity could haunt the company as consumers look to competitors that have actively promoted development for years.
That lack of boldness has not weakened Toyota’s pursuit, according to Lux Research, the company is rated as one of the leaders in self-driving. It has partnered with Stanford and MIT to accelerate the development of AI and robotics, critical to the development of driverless cars.
Earlier this year, the company also announced a new self-driving vehicle, outfitted with Lidar, radar, and other high-tech sensors.
Toyota is the largest automotive manufacturer in the world by sales, so it needs to be ahead when it comes to self-driving. Forrester researchers predict that self-driving could have a severe effect on the global economy by 2035, harming automakers that don’t pounce on the opportunities.