As a part of its recent “Experience the Future of Mobility” exhibit at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, Toyota offered a glimpse of the kind of propulsion technology we may soon see on the streets of Pittsburgh. The company showed off its “Car of the Future,” a zero emission hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV). And while there’s no word on when the vehicle will be for sale here in Western Pennsylvania, Toyota has said that it could be available to consumers in California as early as 2015.
True to the Aspen Festival’s 2014 focus on imagining the future, the Toyota FCV is an important step forward for zero-emission vehicle technology. An electric-drive, mid-size, four-door sedan, the vehicle won’t require customers to compromise on safety, price or performance. Instead, the FCV will travel approximately 300 miles on a single fill-up of hydrogen, which takes less than five minutes.
In addition, Toyota is taking steps to ensure that owners of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be able to fill their tanks, no matter what brand is on the hood. In May, the company announced it had entered a financial relationship with FirstElement Fuels to support the long-term operation and maintenance of 19 new hydrogen refueling stations in California. Building the infrastructure to support hydrogen fueling is important to the spread of the technology to markets such as Pittsburgh.
“Our society is on the cusp of a revolution in personal mobility,” said Osamu Nagata, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America. “Slowly but surely, new technologies are changing how we think about automobiles and transportation -- from intelligent, automated systems that team up with drivers to improve safety, to zero-emission vehicles that emit nothing but water vapor. These technologies will help save lives, improve the environment, create jobs and help the U.S. maintain technical leadership in a field that is an important contributor to economic growth.”
In addition to the FCV, Toyota also presented a comprehensive vision for the Future of Mobility with an interactive exhibit that brings to life emerging automated vehicle technologies and cutting-edge safety research.
The display included a preview of the Toyota’s newest generation Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DARV 1.5), part of the company’s ongoing research into the dynamics of driver distraction at the Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, MI. The Toyota DARV 1.5 uses advanced technology, including Microsoft's Surface and Kinect and custom biometric software and algorithms by Infosys, to help driver, passengers and the vehicle itself work together as a team to achieve safer driving.
The technology allows for features such as “driver lock-in,” which tracks the driver’s body frame and automatically enables or disables features based upon who is interacting with the navigation panel. The Toyota research vehicle also explores new ways to use emerging wearable devices, such as smart watches, to control key vehicle functions in an effort to understand the potential impact of these devices on auto safety. In addition, the Toyota DARV 1.5 looks at new ways to create a safer driving environment by measuring driver behavior and providing a driving “score” based on safe driving choices.
Toyota also had a large interactive wall that uses image capture to display the activity of visitors moving about the exhibit, while sharing how next-generation automated safety technologies will team up with drivers to improve safety. As presenting sponsor of the Aspen Ideas Festival, Toyota also had educational information about its new technologies on hand.