Toyota builds autonomous drift Supra, for safety reasons

Posted on

Do you remember the electric, autonomous drift DeLorean built by researchers at Stanford University? It’s hard to forget, but now those researchers have a new toy. Toyota has joined the good folks at Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab, and it’s brought a Supra for the ride. However, this Supra is not like any other Supra. Like the electric DeLorean, it is designed to drift autonomously. Watch it in action in the video above.

The aim of this project is to bring together the instincts of professional drivers and automated driving technology, and then design new active safety technology that uses what has been learned.

“The reality is that every driver has vulnerabilities and to avoid a crash, drivers often have to perform maneuvers that are beyond their capabilities,” said Gill Pratt, TRI (Toyota Research Institute) CEO and Chief Scientist at Toyota. “Through this project, TRI will learn from some of the world’s most skilled drivers to develop advanced control algorithms that enhance people’s driving skills and keep people safe.”

The new Supra is meant to go beyond what Stanford has already done with its proof-of-concept. At this stage, Toyota is trying to apply the autonomous engineering architecture to actual vehicle platforms. The drift Supra you see here is the first to surface. TRD offered its help to make it the race car drifter that it is, but technical details of the car were not specified by Toyota. The car is able to enter and hold a drift without driver input on a slip path, which is kind of trippy to look at.

“Since 2008, our lab has taken inspiration from human race cars to design algorithms that enable automated vehicles to handle the most challenging emergencies,” said Professor Chris Gerdes of Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Laboratory. “Through this research, we have the opportunity to take these ideas much closer to saving lives on the road.”

There is still no clear timeline for the technology being tested here to appear in a production car. However, Toyota says it plans to “widely share the research so that Toyota and other automakers can put it to use on the road.”

Related video: