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Lexus shows off road-aware safety research prototype

Automaker Lexus demoes its autonomous driving vehicle at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, and it's loaded with sensors and other technological goodies that make it aware of its surroundings.

Lexus' more road-aware prototype. Just don't call it driverless.
Lexus' more road-aware prototype. Just don't call it driverless. Lexus

LAS VEGAS--Lexus showed off a prototype version of its safety-focused research vehicle today at CES, and it's designed to be more aware of what's going on around on the road.

That translates to a car that's been equipped with a bevy of sensors and other technological goodies, including a roof-mounted Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser that can detect objects from 70 feet away.

Other additions include a trio of hi-def cameras that look out for nearby vehicles; a sensor that detects the car's speed and angle; and a GPS antenna that Lexus says can figure out which way your car is pointed even when the car isn't moving.

A five-second video clip of the prototype, a version of the company's LS 600h model, appeared on Lexus' press site late last week.

At today's presentation, Lexus said it does not have a timeline for when the car will be released commercially.

Lexus' car being shown off at CES 2013.
Lexus' car being shown off at CES 2013. Josh Miller/CNET

Lexus' autonomous-vehicle ambitions differ from some of its competitors, including Audi, which today announced plans for a driverless-car pilot program in Nevada. Meanwhile, tech giant Google is also currently testing a car system designed to work without a driver at the wheel.

"For Toyota and Lexus, an autonomous vehicle does not translate to a driverless vehicle, but rather a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving," Mark Templin, Toyota's group vice president and general manager of the Lexus Division, said in a release about the project.

You can catch CNET's live coverage of the entire press conference here.