Big in Japan: Highlights from the Tokyo Motor Show

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Lexus LS+ Concept
Image via Lexus6/10

Lexus LS+ Concept

The LS+ is so close to the actual new LS that recently debuted, it’s difficult to tell from photos what’s so different about it. Mostly, Lexus says, the distinction they’re working toward is communicating autonomous capabilities from the outside of the car. Partly, that’s done by pushing tech even further to the surface, so in this case that means using lasers instead of LEDs for lighting, and officials here say that the lighting might be used to alert people outside the car about the state of the vehicle (i.e., it’s going to stay stopped at a crosswalk). This kind of communication becomes key when, as Lexus says, a car like this arrives in the early 2020s with near autonomous functions. As such, what you can’t see is that Lexus is pushing toward a kind of assistance where the car will ask you via voice if it should pass the car you’re following, if you want to make your usual commute to the office, etc. Then the car will execute such commands, much the way you might as Google to turn on your favorite audio track. Lexus says this tech is possible using both a networked system (i.e., the cloud), as well as offline, artificial intelligence that’s native to the car and will read the driver’s “state” as well as the state of the car in its environment, thousands of times per second.

While we’re not quite there yet, even the latest LS can autonomously brake and assists with cornering, and many carmakers already have assisted passing. The challenge for Lexus and its peers is largely now more down to infrastructure (say, smart stoplights that know a car is in front of it), and increasingly less about computational speed bumps.

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