PASADENA, CA – A second generation of Toyota’s suite of advanced driver-assist technologies, mimicking most of those soon to be available on the new Lexus LS flagship sedan, launches in the middle of next year.

Currently, Toyota and sister-brand Lexus plan to have existing technology suites Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-C/TSS-P) and Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) as standard equipment on more than 90% of their vehicles by year-end, Seigo Kuzumaki, chief professional engineer-Toyota, tells media here at a pre-L.A. auto show technology demonstration.

TSS-C and TSS-P both feature a pre-collision system (PCS), lane-departure alert (LDA) and auto high beams, while TSS-P tacks on dynamic radar cruise control (DRCC) and PCS with pedestrian detection capabilities.

But by mid-2018 Toyota will debut as standard equipment an updated version of TSS on certain unnamed vehicles in the U.S.

New to TSS next year is the ability of PCS to detect a bicyclist during the day, and a pedestrian in front of a vehicle during day or night.

Further, TSS’ LDA now has road-edge detection to better keep drivers in their lane, while DRCC has enhanced forward recognition and acceleration and deceleration abilities in a wider speed range, Toyota says.

Two assist features, for road signs and lane tracing, are new to TSS in 2018. The former can detect some common road signs in the U.S., Europe and Japan and display them in the meter cluster or a head-up display, while the latter provides “steering support” to keep a vehicle centered in its lane if DRCC is turned on.

“Our goal is to cascade down advanced technologies to our volume sellers…as soon as possible,” says Hideki Hada, executive engineer in the tech strategy/advanced safety department at Toyota Technical Center in Michigan.

With second-gen TSS, Toyota is edging closer to its goal to launch autonomous-vehicle technology in 2020 in Japan for highway driving, from on ramps to off ramps.

The man leading that charge, Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt, Monday was named fellow of parent Toyota Motor Corp. Fellow is a new position within Toyota, akin to an executive vice president, a spokesman of the automaker explains.

“Our coming structural change reflects our will that the Toyota Group will tackle this era of profound transformation,” TMC CEO Akio Toyoda, whom Pratt reports to, says in a statement of the shift toward autonomy.

Pratt delivers a speech to dispel autonomous myths during the 2017 Automobility LA conference in downtown Los Angeles yesterday afternoon.

While he says some people may think automakers are pursuing autonomous vehicles for altruistic reasons such as preventing crashes and allowing older seniors and the disabled the ability to be mobile, the real reason is the opportunity to make money off mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) schemes via partnerships with Uber, Lyft or similar services.

“The reality is that increasing productivity for MaaS is the major motivation for why so much money is being spent in this field,” Pratt says of removing the cost of a driver from hailed or shared transportation to increase its profitability.

He points to Deutsche Bank analysis showing the average revenue for a MaaS ride in the U.S. is $1.50 per mile, while the average cost of the vehicle to the driver – factoring in the cost of gasoline and price depreciation – is $0.85 per mile.

“So what that means is that the 65 cents of difference between $1.50 and $0.85 is available…to the driver and to the company that’s providing the ride-sharing service and maybe available to the company that made the car in the first place,” Pratt says,

But here too he tries to dispel myths, noting autonomous vehicles, at least initially, will be pricey due to the added cameras and sensors that enable their operation, and that with increased competition likely will come decreased revenue.

“It’s important to understand this is a very optimistic assumption about how much money there is to be made per mile in the automated mobility service business,” Pratt says.