WINDSOR, Ont. – Global automakers need to develop industry-wide standards before proceeding with mass production of autonomous vehicles, says Jeff Makarewich, vice-president of research and development at Toyota North America.
“We need wide-ranging discussions to set technical standards and nomenclature,” Makarewich said in a keynote speech at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association’s annual conference here Wednesday.
“Right now, we are all playing in our own sandbox and we need to start playing together.”
Those talks, he said, should take place sooner rather than later.
Toyota, meanwhile, has moved ahead with development of two types of autonomous vehicles, but full production is still a few years away.
“We’re taking a two-pronged approach,” said Makarewich. “We have the Chauffeur, which is fully autonomous and the Guardian, which steps in for the driver when it senses imminent danger.”
The dual technology is expected to be added to a test fleet of Lexus vehicles by September of this year.
Toyota, which began as a manufacturer of automated looms in 1926,
is undergoing a transformation from an automotive company to a mobility company, said Makarewich.
“We have launched Toyota Connected, Toyota AI Ventures and the Toyota Research Institute, all of which are designed to develop the next generation of vehicles,” he said.
Earlier this year, Toyota President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, said that “a life or death battle has begun in a world of unknowns.”
This changing landscape has forced automakers across the globe to rethink the nature of their products on a daily basis, said Toyoda.
Last year, the Japan-based automaker sold 2.75 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles across North America and Makarewich expects a similar performance in 2019.
“There are some variables in the marketplace, and while unemployment rates are low and consumer confidence is high, it is costing more to produce vehicles and there are uncertain trade issues to be overcome,” he said.