Toyota’s latest autonomous drive capability was revealed plus an efficiency challenge. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Mar. 17, 2017 2017 Toyota Prius at speed… More than 100 members of the public were on hand at the Sonoma Raceway to experience something the public rarely gets to see. That being Toyota’s latest autonomous drive capability. At the same time, they gathered to have a little fun at what was deemed the Toyota Onramp 2017, an annual event hosted by Toyota Research Institute (TRI). The event was built around the Prius Challenge, where the teams competed to see how efficiently they could drive nine laps of the historic raceway. Toyota’s Chairman of the Board, Takeshi Uchiyamada, and known as the father of the Prius, was on hand for personal interaction and discussions. Dr. Gill Pratt, TRI CEO: Participants were given access to a driving simulator built by Open Source Robotics Foundation and a strategy editor from Hyperdrive. In addition, while on the track, the teams were using a proprietary coaching app to help evaluate and adjust their driving performance in real time to achieve the best efficiency while looping the track. Do not ask me if the various sims and coaching helped or hurt since I was not there. The overall Prius Challenge winner achieved a 9-lap total of 85 mpg. In addition to the Prius Challenge, Onramp 2017 included the following highlights: An Executive Roundtable discussion with media Reveal of a TRI-developed research vehicle Autonomous Diving experiences for participants The roundtable featured Chairman Uchiyamada , Dr. Gill Pratt, Dr. James Kuffner, CTO; Dr. Ryan Eustice, VP of Autonomous Driving; and Mr. Chris Ballinger, CFO and Director of Mobility Services. TRIs new advanced safety research vehicle was shown for the first time. The all-new test mule is the next step in Toyota’s 12 years of autonomous technology R&D in the U.S., and will be used to explore autonomous driving capabilities going forward. Participants also had the chance to join a professional driver for a high-speed lap around the track in a Lexus high performance vehicle. The Toyota i-Road, a three-wheel electric concept vehicle, was brought to the Onramp event again to immerse participants fully into its unique driving experiences. All told, I suspect the next Gen5 Prius will be the first with Toyota’s Level3/4 Autonomous systems when it is revealed in 2021 or 2022.