More Toyota WTF quotes.

Discussion in 'General' started by gooki, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    This time it's on the subject of self driving cars.

    Dr James Kuffner, the CEO of the Advanced Development division Toyota Research Institute (TRI)

    I'm surprised to see Toyota have someone with such a defeatist attitude in charge of their self driving endeavors.
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I agree in part because our last Toyota, a Prius Prime, was traded in for our SR+ Model 3. I'm not here to list the Prius Prime design flaws. Just note we kept the 2014 BMW i3-REx and let the 2017 Prius Prime go.

    Bob Wilson
  3. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    As they say, perfect is the enemy of good. Toyota is about taking something and making it cheaper, faster etc. They are lot more cautious in coming out with new innovative products as they want to be perfect. They cannot.

    With driver-less cars, the question is usage conditions. Having autonomous driving in a geo fenced area of Phoenix, where streets are broad, weather conditions are usually good and traffic is manageable, is relatively easier, compared to say autonomous driving in Sao Paulo or Shangai or New Delhi or Tel Aviv. Here, traffic may be more chaotic, streets narrower etc. To this we can add weather and conditions such as blizzard and weather conditions, unmarked roads, construction delays, special events etc.

    So we have standard conditions and non standard or location specific conditions. Now Waymo and other are going for standard conditions, not the boundary conditions. Toyota is going for the entire enchilada, they are looking at all and every condition. And I agree that is correct, that we are probably far away from there. So I would be hesitant to buy a car where manual intervention is not possible. However we cannot wait till every possible condition is covered. You have to begin somewhere, even if it covers say 80% of the conditions, rather than 100%. Waymo may be at say 95% in the Phoenix area, but may be only 50% elsewhere. That has not stopped them, they are starting where they can. (Even though Waymo is offering completely driver-less service in my area of the Phoenix suburbs, they can pull their service at any time i.e. if there is a dust storm like we sometimes have here, they can stop their service or only have a manned service where the driver can take over.) My take is that Toyota wants to be at 99% or over (a sure thing). Unfortunately, you have to get to that through machine learning, which may start at 0% and work yourself up to wherever.

    Now I do not disagree with Toyota that the cost of the additional hardware in the car and software (additional complexity and compute power) to get to say 99% or higher is going to be expensive. However that does not mean that you cannot provide hardware and software for say 80% of the conditions fairly inexpensively and provide more capabilities in a sub-set of cars that are constantly used.

    Both can co-exist (some cars at 80% and other at 99%) and but Toyota seems to wants to stick to what they are comfortable with. Let us remember, software development is not Toyota's skill or for that matter, for most automotive manufacturers. Developing some embedded software code is far cry from developing a complex system. Tesla has software roots to begin with and it was easy for them. Google is a software giant. GM bought Cruise and allowed others like Honda to invest in it, as Cruise is a Silicon Valley start up. Others like Nissan turned to Mobileye (which is now owned by Intel a hardware giant) or to Nvidia. Toyota on the other hand is not comfortable with working with vendors they do not control. That is why they are struggling as this is outside their comfort zone. That said I agree with the larger statement that we are still far a ways from all conditions autonomous driving, but most manufacturers need to get to L3 at least. Toyota is behind the curve.
    Domenick likes this.
  4. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    Not sure about that. Level 5 (L5) is the ultimate and what the Toyota guy say is "it is not going to happen" and "so let us try to get to Level 3 for now". Others are at level 3 already and in certain geographic areas at level 4, most notably Waymo. Others like Tesla, Ford, Cruise etc are aiming for level 4. Toyota who usually a follower (they allow others to do it and then do it better) thinks they can get to Level 3 and they work themselves up to level 4 if needed. However, Software development is not incremental like Kaizen or Lean. You may have to throw out whole chunks of code and rewrite to get to the next level. It does not follow the manufacturing model where you can keep making small improvements and then you find you have a come a long way. And that is where I think they are making the mistake, not that they are going for level 3, but they seem contented with level 3. My 1-c-
  5. I am looking forward to seeing the first EV that Toyota/Subaru will come up with (around 2022). Knowing Toyota, they will do it right. Their design, development, testing and manufacturing is the best in the industry. That's why their cars are so reliable. And their timing couldn't be better, when hopefully the world and infrastructure will be more ready for EVs.
  6. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Quoting from a citation in "gooki's" post above:

    “There are two different products that are often conflated in the media, one is the personal vehicle, the one you sell to the customer. The other is a driverless taxi that would be fleet owned and operated, and every day maintained to perfection. That’s a completely different product, you can have expensive sensors on it and the high utilisation of that vehicle will amortise it so you can recover that cost.”

    Well, to some extent I can see what he's talking about. Taxi fleets used to use Checker cabs which were robustly built and would hold up much better than ordinary cars to many hours of use per day, for years and decades.

    But sensor systems? Nah. Solid-state lidar scanners, and solid-state phased-array radar arrays, aren't nearly as expensive as those analog spinning lidar scanners that are so prominently visible on experimental self-driving cars. Reportedly, they can install a solid-state lidar scanner system in a car for about $1000-2000. That's well within the price range for mass production. And in fact, GM has already purchased a solid-state lidar scanner manufacturer.

    Looks like Toyota is yet again making excuses for dragging their heels.

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  7. 101101

    101101 Well-Known Member

    I think Toyota is resisting seeing that not only will electric autonomy commoditize their products, it will disintermediate them from their customer base reducing them to at best a component maker without mind share or access to end customers. They will become an acquisition target or gap filler for firms that vertically integrate from the dirt to the end user. Right now Amazon is their customer, soon it will be their direct competitor because there won't be any cars sold to the public. Data/AI-Logistics/transport-zero carbon energy are all merged together in single firms. The solid state piece and the AI/data piece enables the vertical integration and the economies of scale from that vertical integration. Toyota has been a great almost zero bs firm but it is way, way too narrow and its core expertise in ICE engines is obsolete and it needs new managements- those resisting green energy for instance are foolish/malevolent but also literally in the way. Toyota needs to merge or acquire about 12 other large Japanese firms to get the breadth to weather this storm. As a start if it acquired UPS it would have to retire the work force make it fully automated and green- that might be one acquisition to start with but it is so far behind on other needed basic tech and its strategy is off. Its a solid grade AAA blue chip that earned its place in every measurable way that is going be dissolved in the acid of change unless it pulls up. It is literally about to fly into a mountain top, it needs to pull up. Its about to face the kind of challenges that Sony has or even Nintendo (facing being marginalized by becoming software only) but actually worse.

    VW faces the same kind of challenge- they have to cut loose their dealer networks and understand unless they become an Amazon Prime they won't be having any access to end consumer level customers and if they are business to business they won't last long. The partners for these new firms are firms that supply chip making equipment or tires or something like that- but with flying drones there aren't even tires.

    This is why we need guaranteed annual high indexed replacement incomes- the displacement is about to become massive and we can't just hide behind tariffs unless we want to fall behind on tech. I understand now why the Toyota head wanted to wait because he didn't see any future. But even VW, which appears to be turning their ship still stupidly talks about being carbon neural by 2050, they don't even have until 2030- really 2025 is what they should be talking about even in public. Chesapeake Energy (natural gas) is 1/20 the size it was when Trump came in and will go bankrupt soon, and Murray (coal) is bankrupt and not coming back. The traitor DNC 'moderates' think a Michael Bloomberg can save them from their delusion of the rich having made actual contributions that would justify retaining their wealth (not going to happen) and the super wealthy in the UK are supposedly claiming they will flee if Corbyn is elected (they'd only get their tax evasions confiscated and be extradited back for trial.) The gig is up, its about to get very real, Toyota's formula of incremental is fine but they have to take a quantum leap too. Toyota should try to become Tesla, try to compete with Tesla in every areas Tesla is in or will predictably be in and that is ground up logistics, the entire energy chain and data/AI/telecom/software. They need to buy Panasonic, Toshiba, and a UPS like firm or make their own and shed their dealer networks, they need an Aerospace company too. They have to be a force in data-logistics/transport-energy and integrate it all together just maintain customers, mind-share and market access, they have to be their own biggest customer. This is a strategic risk for Japan too, they will need all the help their government can give them.
  8. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    I dunno, neither of their initial PHEV offering were particularly good. And their current public plans show EVs for small city cars only.

    My concern is if Toyota knows this, are they going to use their influence to slow down autonomous vehicle regulation? Their talk about not wanting to replace menial or dangers jobs with autonomy sounds like their happy will actively try to slow the revolution. It reminds me of the Indian transportation minister saying they will not allow autonomous vehicles, as they desperately want to protect "jobs".

    Once upon a time Toyota wasn't afraid of innovation. Toyota used the SC400 to build the Lexus brand. And my god was there a lot of tech in that car. Ultrasonic mirrors, adjustable air suspension, digital dashboard, GPS navigation, reversing cameras, ... in 1991.
  9. Toyota is not only good at what they do, but smart. They did the Prius at the right time, and now will be doing their first EVs exactly when the market will be ready. They have the industry's best cars right now (and best reputation with customers) , and when they get into the BEV market I have no doubt they will be the best as well.
  10. Here are the 10 most reliable vehicles for 2019 according to Consumer Reports (they buy the cars they test, so not influenced by sponsors).
    #1 is the Prius C, #3 is the Prius Prime, #5 is the regular Prius. As it happens I owned a Prius C for 5 years before trading it in for my Kona EV. The car was bullet proof for us, just oil changes and a change of tires for maintenance during that time. Got 60% of what I paid for it, after 5 years, so it really held its value, too.

    And also as it happens, our other car is a Subaru Crosstrek which is the #4 most reliable car. I guess I know how to pick them..., haha.

    So, I have no doubt that when the new Toyota/Subaru EVs hit the market, they will continue their reliability and customer loyalty legacy.

    The jury is still out on my Hyundai Kona. I haven't had any problems with mine, but I know others have (mostly weird noises). But I can say already that it does not measure up to my Crosstrek in terms of driving handling and safety/driver assist features. But didn't have much choice, since no Subaru or Toyota BEVs out yet. However, the Kona does have the highest range (real world not EPA) of any BEV out there, incl Teslas. So that is good.
  11. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    Which is why so many of us want to see Toyota move into BEVs. They're a great brand that's needed for healthy competition.
    R P likes this.
  12. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    This thread began with more of a discussion on autonomous car and the Toyota's take on it. They are behind on BEV technology but they have great strengths and experience with HEVs. So their ability to leapfrog competition is considerable. And they are a great brand. However, even Toyota cannot delay for too long. They should have made their moves a while back but it is not too late for them.

    However in autonomous driving, they also appear to be far behind, and do not appear to have any inherent advantage that they can turn to. Their manufacturing prowess is not of much use here. They may have to end up buying the technology.
  13. Toyota is behind by choice. They are just being very realistic about autonomous driving and quite willing to let others do some of the initial R&D. When standards and a clear technology path emerge, they will catch up pretty quickly.
  14. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    I agree there are being more realistic that say Elon. Unfortunately in machine learning, you need to spend a lot of time training the software and you need to get as much data as possible. So I am a little more skeptical that they can catch up in software effort as easily as they could catch up in the BEV development. Toyota's strengths are in vehicle manufacturing and the supply chain.

    Of course they could buy an autonomous driving system or buy a company with the technology, but would find it difficult if they take a "do it ourselves approach" in this case. My 1-c-
  15. I guess we will have to wait and see. First they will be selling EVs, and really not sure how long it will be before selling completely autonomous driving vehicles. The way it has been going lately, sounds like it will take a lot longer than many originally predicted. That last 10% and the final 1% will be extremely difficult to achieve. And 90% isn't good enough.

    My son likes to talk about AI (even concerned about machines taking over some day), and I just tell him that I will be convinced when an autonomous vehicle can drive to our cabin. It has some really tough off road terrain, with occasional logging trucks that don't get out of your way. And two way radios are essential.

    One thing about the Japanese (as well as Koreans and Chinese), they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I was over in Tokyo a few years back on business, and was amazed at how efficient and precise everything is over there. That is just not how it is here, and with our culture can't ever see us getting to where they are today, at least in my life time.
  16. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    It’s crazy isn’t it. Like directly from the CEOs mouth, in a country that doesn’t have its own oil supply.

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