Toyota Wants to Be Like Tesla, Says Camera-Based Self-Driving Tech Coming

Woven Planet, a unit of Toyota Motor Corp., has unveiled camera-based self-driving technology similar to Tesla’s Vision-based Autopilot — reports Reuters.

The Toyota subsidiary told Reuters that it has developed a way to use data collected from low-cost cameras to effectively train its self-driving system. Woven Planet hopes this “breakthrough” will help drive down the costs associated with gathering driving data from a massive fleet of cars and scale up its self-driving tech.

Woven Planet will still use other sensor technologies like radar and lidar to collect driving data as well, unlike Tesla, which relies solely on cameras to inform and enable its suite of self-driving technologies.

“We need a lot of data. And it’s not sufficient to just have a small amount of data that can be collected from a small fleet of very expensive autonomous vehicles,” Michael Benisch, Vice President of Engineering at Woven Planet, told Reuters in an interview.

“Rather, we’re trying to demonstrate that we can unlock the advantage that Toyota and a large automaker would have, which is access to a huge corpus of data, but with a much lower fidelity.”

Last month, Toyota also announced plans to test Aurora’s self-driving system using the automaker’s Sienna minivans in the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas

Woven Planet is using cameras that are 90% cheaper than the sensors it used before and can be easily installed in fleets of passenger cars. For robotaxis and other autonomous vehicle deployments on public roads, however, Benisch said Toyota would still incorporate multiple sensor technologies like lidar and radar as that appears to be the best, safest approach at this time.

“But in many, many years, it’s entirely possible that camera type technology can catch up and overtake some of the more advanced sensors,” added Benisch.

“The question may be more about when and how long it will take to reach a level of safety and reliability. I don’t believe we know that yet.”

Tesla CEO responded to a story by Teslarati covering the Toyota story, by saying “…”, suggesting he was speechless at the Japanese automaker’s move. Musk has long advocated for camera-based Autopilot, which is currently being used on its vehicles.

Toyota plans to launch a new operating system, designed to help customers better manage its vehicles’ self-driving and other advanced technologies, by 2025. The veteran automaker is set to invest $70 billion USD in electrifying its entire lineup of cars by 2030.