Toyota builds self-driving test track for 'edge case' scenarios

The Toyota company logo is see on a Yaris model car that is on display at Toyota's automobile manufacturing plant before the visit by the French president in Onnaing, France, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it is building a closed-course test facility in Michigan for its self-driving vehicle technology that will replicate “edge case” driving scenarios that are too dangerous to conduct on public roads.

The facility at Ottawa Lake, which is being built by the Toyota Research Institute, will go into operation in October.

“This new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash,” Ryan Eustice, the Toyota Research Institute’s senior vice president of automated driving, said in a statement.

Automakers such as General Motors Co and companies such as Alphabet Inc unit Waymo have been racing to develop self-driving cars and be the first to market with a viable product.

But questions about the safety of self-driving technology and oversight of developers were raised after a fatal collision between an Uber Technologies Inc self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in Arizona in March.

Following that accident, Toyota suspended all its self-driving tests on U.S. public roads in California and Michigan. Toyota has continued tests on closed courses.

A Toyota Research Institute spokesman said halting tests on public roads has allowed the automaker to refine and upgrade its fleet of test vehicles.

“We will resume testing on public roads in a few weeks, once these three systems have been more closely aligned,” the spokesman said.

Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum