Toyota Crown Concept
If you’re a bit of a nerd about cars you know that the Crown is a big, four-door sedan that largely hasn’t been available in North America, but bits of what it stands for have been part of Toyota/Lexus philosophy for a good 40 years. What’s important about the Crown Concept, however, is that it represents another small step toward autonomy.
The Crown Concept features technology that goes beyond merely monitoring the physical space around the vehicle. Instead the concept (and presumably, future Toyotas and cars from other brands) features a DCM, or Data Communication Module. The idea is that the car can ping infrastructure and other vehicles around it to learn about the state of traffic and emergency vehicles coming into the vehicle’s path. Theoretically if you’re using cruise control it could do more than just monitor the speed of the car you’re following because so-called Car-to-X communication could link to hundreds of cars and, eventually, sync all of them so they move as a unit safely.
Once more, infrastructure is similarly “smart,” a car wouldn’t sit at a “dumb” stoplight with no cross traffic, because Car-to-X would allow the lights to “know” the prevailing flow and recalibrate lights accordingly.
We’re not there yet, but the first step is enabling cars that do more than just read the surrounding area with sensors.