When Lexus' redesigned flagship goes on sale in the U.S. early next year, the 2018 LS will have many autonomous driving features, but the automaker isn't calling them self-driving systems. Instead, according to a report in Automotive News, it's erring on the side of caution so consumers understand the systems' limitations.
The new LS will feature a host of autonomous features like the Lexus Safety System Plus with the Advanced Safety Package. If a pedestrian is detected ahead and a collision is imminent, Lexus says the LS will automatically brake and steer around the person while staying in the lane. Another is a cruise control system that allows the car to stay centered in its lane and automatically steer around curves at low and high speeds. The new LS will also have Lane Change Assist; it lets the car change lanes by itself by automatically controlling steering, acceleration and braking.
Lexus says the new LS meets SAE International's Level 2 autonomous driving qualifications, but it thinks the term "self-driving" can be misleading. For example, a Tesla Model S driver was killed when he misunderstood the capabilities of the sedan's self-driving system, dubbed Autopilot, and struck a semitrailer.
"To avoid any misunderstanding, including by our customers, that this technology means 'the driver doesn't have to do anything,' " Lexus said in a statement, "and to prevent overconfidence in such, we have decided to intentionally not refer to this technology as automated driving."
The automaker has also implemented several overrides to prevent a crash due to driver inattention. If the LS perceives a lack of attention, it will warn the driver through audio and visual alerts and slowly decelerate. If that doesn't prompt driver takeover, the car will activate the hazard lights and horn to alert other drivers. Lastly, it'll automatically stop the car.