Autonomous driving is typically marketed as a luxury item, a technology of convenience, something to handle the mundane parts of driving so you don’t have to. While some autonomous driver aids can help increase safety, full autonomous driving systems are more for comfort. However, Toyota is actually developing a Supra that can autonomously drift and it’s doing so to save lives.
Upon hearing that drifting can save lives, Chris Harris just became a volunteer EMT. Joking aside, Toyota has an interesting point. Alongside Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab, Toyota is currently developing a Supra that can drift itself like the best pro drifters in the world and it’s done so with the legitimate intent to increase driver and pedestrian safety.
The idea behind this is that proper drifters have superb car control, better than almost anyone else, and can make split-second decisions about how to completely change the direction of a car. If the on-board computer can learn how to do that as well as a pro drifter, then it can make better split-second decisions and also have the skill to avoid collisions with other cars or even pedestrians.
It’s an interesting idea, to teach a car how to drift to save lives. At face value it seems silly but, upon further thought, it actually makes more sense than you might think. The sort of outstanding car control shown by drifters would be massively helpful on the road, allowing the car to maneuver away from dangers, even if that means sliding the car around or engaging in more unorthodox driving techniques.
Does this mean we’ll see Supras drifting through city centers on their own to avoid a squirrel in the road? No but it just might help a car make a last second maneuver to avoid a collision, even if it has to swerve a bit to do so. And since the Toyota Supra shares its software with the BMW Z4, it’s possible that Toyota could share this new technology with BMW as well.
[Source: The Drive]