Toyota vehicles to feature wireless software updates

Courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.
Lexus LS sedan, left, and Mirai fuel cell vehicles equipped with OTA technology

Toyota Motor Corp. will introduce state-of-the-art technology that allows the software systems, including autonomous driving capabilities, on its Lexus LS sedan and Mirai fuel cell vehicles to be updated wirelessly, the automaker announced Thursday.

Owners of vehicles equipped with the technology, dubbed Over The Air (OTA), will be able to enjoy improved performance without buying new vehicles. Some experts expect OTA to be a game changer in the automobile industry.

U.S. electric vehicle giant Tesla Inc. has been using the technology as one of its core features.

Both of Toyota’s OTA-equipped models will feature “level 2” self-driving capabilities. Level 2 allows for automated acceleration and braking, and enables hands-off driving on highways. This is the first time for commercially available Toyota vehicles to be equipped with level 2 autonomous driving.

Future OTA improvements to the cars’ self-driving software is to include precision timing for passing maneuvers and lane-changing capabilities.

James Kuffner, executive officer in charge of software development, told an online press conference that the technology can be adopted in a wide range of vehicles globally.

An OTA-equipped Lexus LS is priced at ¥16.32 million to ¥17.94 million, while the Mirai will be available from Monday at ¥8.45 million to ¥8.6 million. These prices range from ¥500,000 to ¥1 million more than the conventional models.