Now that Toyota's massive 3.8 million-vehicle recall for floor mats with a mind of their own has got unintended acceleration on our brains, perhaps it would be a good time to take a look at ways to solve the potential problem once and for all. In contrast to Toyota's initial low-tech tie-wrap approach, The New York Times reports that some automakers have created so-called "smart gas pedals."
So, um, what's a smart gas pedal? Apparently, on all BMWs since 2005, a computer can tell when both the gas and brake pedals are being applied when the vehicle is moving. In that situation, the computer disables the gas pedal and gives the brakes priority. Presumably, the BMW system is smart enough to figure out intentional left-foot braking, as we don't recall experiencing any problem in such usage scenarios.
Considering Audi and other automakers' unfortunate history with unsubstantiated unintended acceleration claims, similar technology reportedly exists at that automaker along with parent company Volkswagen. Interestingly, the NYT reports that General Motors, Ford, Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus and Hyundai don't employ such systems, though Toyota is said to be considering the technology after its recent travails. According to Chrysler spokesperson Lisa Barrow, most vehicles from the Pentastar "have a feature that recognizes the use of both pedals at the same and brings the engine speed to idle."
[Source: The New York Times | Image: George Heyer/Getty]