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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota has detailed three new vehicle safety systems designed to avoid instances of unintended acceleration and high-speed crashes.

The Japanese manufacturer was forced to recall around eight million vehicles globally in 2009 and 2010 after slipping floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals prevented drivers from stopping their vehicles and caused a number of crashes.

Two of the new safety measures are intended to reduce the risk of a crash in instances where the driver hits the wrong pedal or selects the wrong gear, particularly when parking.

The first is Intelligent Clearance Sonar, which is able to detect obstacles that are outside the driver’s line of sight and automatically apply the brakes if there is a risk of a crash. The system first sounds an alarm, then reduces engine power and applies the brakes if deemed necessary.

Supporting the sonar system is Drive-Start Control, which recognises if the wrong gear (Drive or Reverse) has been selected when the driver applies the throttle, flashing a warning and reducing engine output in an attempt to avoid a collision.

“This can help … when a driver reacts to hitting an object while reversing by making a quick shift to a forward gear while still pressing the accelerator pedal,” Toyota explains.

The third system, Pre-Crash Safety system (PCS) with Collision Avoidance Assist, is designed to operate at higher speeds to reduce the consequences of rear-end crashes.

This latest version of PCS – a system already available in a number of Toyota and Lexus vehicles – uses a radar to monitor the vehicle directly ahead. If it detects a collision risk, audible and visual warnings alert the driver to apply the brakes.

If the brake pedal is pressed, the system can increase the braking force by up to twice the average level achieved by drivers, allowing the system to slow the vehicle by up to 60km/h, or by 30km/h if the driver fails to hit the brake pedal altogether.

Toyota says all three safety technologies are being prepared for implementation in its future vehicles.

Toyota is not alone in developing safety systems designed to reduce the threat of unintended acceleration, with a number of manufacturers developing similar technologies, including Nissan’s Safety Shield system, which we tested in Japan last year.




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