Toyota will only introduce autonomous driving functions when it is certain that they are safe, meaning the brand is unlikely to ever have the most advanced systems on sale, according to executive vice-president Didier Leroy.
While highlighting the huge resources Toyota is putting in to develop autonomous and artifically intelligent technology, Leroy conceded that, despite its technical prowess, Toyota must bring the technology to production cautiously.
“We don’t want to be the first - we cannot take the risk,” said Leroy. “When people buy our cars, they want them to be extremely safe. If the technology is not safe, then the consequences for the reputation of the brand could be terrible.”
Leroy outlined the challenges such a stance is likely to bring, especially during the transition from partial to full autonomy. “Let’s say we develop a car without a steering wheel,” he said. “I tell you that the technology in the car will reduce road deaths by five times - but that there will still be some road deaths as a result of system failures. Would you get in that car?
“It is a fact that most people think they are better-than-average drivers, which is of course impossible. It is completely unacceptable to say that there is a risk attached to the technology. What we introduce must provide assistance above what we already have.”