STREET SMARTS

Lexus’ G force with Artificial Intelligence system gets to know your cornering style.

03/08/2013—Your Lexus is many things. A precision machine. An icon of luxury. A paragon of technical prowess.

It’s also a student.

What does it study? You, the driver. From Lexus’ beginnings in 1989, engineers have infused Lexus vehicles with systems that learn how you drive—as you’re driving—and then deliver mechanical responses that help the vehicles perform as you desire.

A prime example is Lexus’ Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i), which delivers seamless shifts by gradually adjusting hydraulic pressure, coordinated with engine power adjustments, instead of suddenly switching to a new gear all at once. Beyond this core function, however, the system studies you: the ECT-i computer actually learns from your driving behavior, and then adjusts gear-shift timing to match your driving style.

This winter, Lexus’ introduced its latest artificial intelligence technology, the G force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system, to be launched on the 2014 IS 350 (available summer 2013). Like ECT-i, G-AI is designed to study an aspect of your driving and personalize the car’s behavior accordingly.

But before we go into what it learns, here’s what the system does: while the Lexus IS 350 is in SPORT mode, G-AI holds the automatic transmission to a single gear as you move through a tight corner, which helps prevent automatic-shifting surprises.

This allows you to focus on what makes a tight turn a lot of fun—throttle and steering—without having to worry about an unexpected automatic shift, which can throw off the experience.

“Sporty drivers want to preserve a level of control when cornering,” says Paul Williamsen, Lexus International’s national manager of global training. “So with G-AI, we’re trying to avoid unexpected weight transfers through the turn—to prevent overloading the front tires or under-loading the rear tires. Anything that upsets the ideal balance, even slightly, such as an unplanned automatic-transmission shift, can disrupt the driver’s cornering line.”

As G-AI is helping to keep things under control, however, it’s also getting to know your preferred “cornering force”—in other words, the subtleties of your cornering style. This eventually allows the system to start choosing the right gear to hold for you through tight turns, which isn’t necessarily the right gear it would hold steady for a different driver.

It also learns quickly, says Williamsen: “I recently took one of the new IS models out on a test track in Japan. Often our intelligence-technology benefits are subtle, but I could actually feel G-AI responding in the first lap. With each turn, the car’s transmission felt as stable as a manual, and it also began learning my intent, so the tight turns felt good.”

As always, though, you be the judge—2014 IS test drives begin this summer.

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