By Drew Johnson
Monday, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:52 pm
 

Not to be outdone by Google, it appears as though Toyota is developing an autonomous vehicle of its own. Our spy photographers have just sent us the first images of a self-driving Lexus LS 600h L prototype.

The vehicle in question was spotted just outside of Toyota's Michigan headquarters earlier on Monday. The vehicle itself looks to be a standard-issue LS 600h L, but there is nothing stock about the hardware this prototype is carrying.

The LS prototype was fitted with roof-mounted hardware similar to Google's autonomous, but also featured a number of censors and cameras located in the front grille. Google's setup is a little more streamlined than Lexus', indicating the Japanese automaker could have some catching up to do.

Google relies on Toyota and Lexus vehicles for its autonomous vehicle program, but all signs point to this Lexus being an in-house job. Toyota is reportedly targeting a 2016-2017 launch date for its first autonomous vehicle, with the LS a logical candidate. Self-driving technology is far from cheap, and the $120,000 LS 600h L is Toyota's best option to hide those additional costs.

Toyota has lots of fine tuning to do before its launches its first self-driving car, so keep an eye out for further developments.