It will be offered on all Lexus models as of April 1.
You heard it right here folks – the future of motoring means the person behind you will soon literally control your car. Lexus announced today that it will offer a new feature called Lane Valet, available on all Lexus models beginning April 1. At the push of a button, Lane Valet can scan for slower traffic in front of the vehicle and then carefully move it to the right lane when safe to do so. Obviously, the functionality depends on both vehicles having at least limited self-driving capability and enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications, the latter of which is still in relative infancy but evolving rapidly.
“Lane Valet was conceived by top Lexus engineers who understand the importance of safe and steady driving conditions,” said Brian Bolain, general manager, Lexus product and consumer marketing, in a press release on the new feature. “An appropriate vehicle speed without excessive braking offers optimal fuel efficiency, better traffic flow and decreased driver frustration. We’re just trying to give everyone the best possible driving experience.”
Clearly this technology is aimed squarely at left-lane bandits, though Lexus uses far more diplomatic terminology in its press release. According to the manufacturer, Lane Valet will “initiate a careful but prompt lane change . . . then carefully deposit the unhurried driver into the right lane before disengaging, thus allowing others in the lane to continue moving at their previous pace.”
Lane Valet is a major step for both self-driving and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, both of which seem to be advancing at an extremely rapid pace. It’s also certain to raise many questions – if not cause outright panic – about safety, liability, and the ethics of remotely taking control of another vehicle without that driver’s prior knowledge. There is already wide speculation that the CIA has investigated the possibility of hacking automobiles. And with a fictional fleet of hacked cars serving up terror in the forthcoming Fast and Furious 8 film, there certainly is grounds for concern.
But then again, isn’t it all worth it to keep the fast lane clear of slow, inattentive drivers?
Lexus says Lane Valet will be featured in broadcast spots this weekend during the NCAA Men’s Final Four, on Comedy Central, and during an encore performance of Saturday Night Live. The company also said it’s committed to anticipating the future luxury needs for its customers, “especially when it comes to imaginary technology on April Fool’s Day.”
Wait, so this isn’t actually real? Guess we’re cancelling our order for that LC 500.
Well played Lexus. Well played indeed.