April 28, 2021—During a presentation on April 13, Ryan Eustice explained how the Toyota Research Institute is developing two automation suites for vehicles with the same goal: Jidoka.
Jidoka is a Japanese term that emphasizes automation and efficiency, but with a human touch. That means that even as automation increases, it becomes an enhancement of human work rather than a displacement.
Eustice is senior vice President of automated driving at the Toyota Research Institute, and he’s also the director of perceptual robotics at the University of Michigan. He spoke as part of the university’s Center for Connected and Automated Transportation’s 2021 Global Symposium.
“In the automotive driving space, we think about Jidoka as well,” he said.
As he works on the R and D segment for Toyota, he says that they’re approaching automation on two tracks with the same ultimate goal of automation that enhances the occupant experience.
The Toyota Research Institute has training grounds and teams of researchers at its disposal from multiple campuses. And the work is promising. Eustice says that autonomous vehicle technology has come a long way since the DARPA Grand Challenge, when U.S. military interests asked researchers to compete in autonomous driving courses. Eustice took part in the 2007 challenge.
Many challenges remain, however. It’s that understanding of nuance that humans have when driving that is tough to replicate in computer systems, as ADAPT discussed in an article about sensor perception. Eustice says that we might want an autonomous vehicle to stop for a crossing guard holding up a hand in the road. But can that perception be fooled?
“That kind of contextual reasoning is really really hard,” he said. “We don’t want a vehicle to stop for a teenager holding up their hand on the road.”