TOKYO, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Toyota Motor Corp. announced plans to make "self-driving" cars available to the public by around 2020.
The Japanese company is seeking to produce cars capable of making lane changes and using highway on- and off-ramps without driver intervention, in the interest of safety.
Moritaka Yoshida, Toyota's chief safety executive, announced the plans Tuesday.
The automaker's work in "autonomous-drive technology" is meant to counter advances by Google Inc. and other Silicon Valley companies, which are publicizing their research and testing of cars that can make driving adjustments without the help of humans.
Toyota also hopes to capitalize on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, using the date as a production goal.
A prototype car, based on the Lexus GS model, was demonstrated on a Tokyo highway Tuesday. After the driver pushed a steering wheel button, the car entered a highway, switched lanes and later exited on an off-ramp, all without the driver's involvement.
The car is equipped with 12 sensors on its body, including camera, lasers and radar devices, and uses them to gather information about the car's environment and the speed of other vehicles.