What Machines Can't Perceive--The Human Heart of Carmaking


Part of an ongoing feature dissecting the Advanced Technical Skills Institute Division, a key facility for making ever-better cars, this article delves into the unquantifiable factor of driving feel.

No helmets?

Aside from the corners and inclines, Yabuki and the team were also particular about road surfaces.

For instance, certain sections replicate the country roads around the Nürburgring in Germany. After simulating the design, the painstaking process involved three layers of coating and fine-tuning to get the details right.

The road surfaces also vary greatly, from spots for monitoring the impact of going over a lateral drain to sections for comparing comfort over different types of asphalt, demarcated by solid and dashed lines.

Between its three circuits, the center features road surfaces from all over the world, making it possible to, in a sense, tour the globe in a single day.

Despite everything the facility offers, Yabuki emphasizes that “it is important to drive not only on test courses, but also the public roads we encounter in everyday life.”


If you tune the suspension to a hard test course, it ends up too soft. You need to find a balance between test courses and ordinary roads.

Driving under the same conditions as customers is crucial, a sentiment that filters through to the use of helmets.


We don’t wear helmets for standard driving tests.

For circuit or super high-speed tests, we use helmets that leave the ears uncovered because no one normally drives wearing a full-face helmet. For the same reason, we don’t wear driving gloves either.

As the interview was winding down in a relaxed mood, we asked Yabuki to pick a favorite among the cars he has worked on.

“I don’t have one,” came the instant response. What exactly did he mean?


I’m constantly looking to make ever-better cars. Toyota’s cars have gotten much better, even outdoing our European rivals in some respects.

But if we get complacent, those rivals will quickly overtake us. That’s why in carmaking there is no finish line, and you should never be satisfied with the status quo.

Yabuki’s answer revealed his unwavering determination to never settle and always aim higher.

Even now, Toyota’s Advanced Technical Skills Institute team is hard at work, creating ever-better cars at the Technical Center Shimoyama.