• Apr 5, 2010
If there's a silver lining in the rash of unintended acceleration claims that have popped up against Toyota as of late, it's that manufacturers from around the world are beginning to think about incorporating brake override systems in their products. General Motors has just announced that all of its vehicles with automatic transmissions and electronic throttle control will boast an "enhanced smart pedal" by 2012.
Essentially, the unit will reduce engine power in the event that both the accelerator and brake pedals are depressed simultaneously. We're having a hard time envisioning an event that would cause us to stand on both pedals at the same time, but hey, it takes all kinds. Hit the jump to check out the press release.

[Source: General Motors]

Show full PR text
GM to Expand Brake Override Software Globally by 2012

2010-04-05

DETROIT – General Motors will expand use of "enhanced smart pedal" technology globally to all passenger cars with automatic transmissions and electronic throttle control, providing an additional safeguard to enhance customer confidence.

Also known as brake override, the change involves modifying existing electronic controls to reduce power to the engine in cases where the brake and accelerator pedal are being depressed at the same time. The global rollout will be completed by the end of 2012.

GM has had for the past several years a braking performance standard that applies to all cars, trucks and crossovers, requiring that the brakes can stop the vehicle within a specific distance. So brake override is an additional safeguard.

"News media analyses of government data consistently validates that GM's safety record on this issue is among the strongest in the industry," said Tom Stephens, vice chairman, GM Global Product Operations. "At the same time, we know safety is top of mind for consumers, so we are applying additional technology to reassure them that they can count on the brakes in their GM vehicle."

The rollout plan balances the speed of implementation with validation needed to assure that customers feel no deterioration in drivability.


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  • 39 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Golf IV TDI I learned on in '98 had a "smart pedal". It took GM 12+ years to get this into their cars and they are making a fuss about it?!
      • 4 Years Ago
      This will henceforth be known (to me) as the Anti-Burnout device.

      The rest of you can call it whatever the hell you want.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports already showed that the brake override can be used and still permit heel-and-toe shifting, along with brake-torquing (at least on German cars) - apparently the brake override kicks in with full brake application - anything short of it, and you can still hoon your way on the road by laying tracks or zipping around corners.

      All this hype about brake overrides killing the fun is a MYTH.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about the manuals ????
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've been in an accident (I wasn't driving) that involved a stuck throttle. it was not drive by wire.

      If I had to bet my life, I would bet that the incidence of stuck throttles has decreased with the proliferation of drive by wire, not increased.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I had a Ford truck that let water in the throttle cable. I was afraid to drive it a couple times during the winter. Sure, break it free and it opens, but what if it sticks?

        Between that, faulty ball joints that were never recalled, a leaky brake pressure switch (cruise control sensor) that was never fixed even though it was recalled, and multiple failing engine accessories, I dumped that POS.

      • 4 Years Ago
      What's this going to do to the burnout?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think this will stop them from getting their weed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yes but what happens when the inevitable GM manufacturing defect causes the engine to completely lose power when you hit just the brake.

      They can't even get power steering to work right on small cars, so they are going to make electronic throttle/brake overrides work.

      This kind of inflammatory comment would be ranked up on Autoblog if I replaced GM with Toyota.

      How about we just go back to the time where the driver is in charge of negotiating the roadways safely. If you do something stupid, it is your fault.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Check out the new safety and reliability ratings from Consumer Reports in the new April Autos Issue. A free online version of the article is available here: www.2010AnnualAutoIssue.com
      • 4 Years Ago
      Those of us who actually know how to drive will obviously have to eliminate any auto GM cars from the list going forward from 2012. If yo are content to be a passenger, you will see no downside here. If you know what you are doing, you will never want this idiotic feature.
      Ever mash the throttle down and leave it down for an offramp and whack the brake pedal for a little weight transfer? Even know what I am speaking of? Good luck with that- the brakes will go on hard and you will fly off the road instead of turning in. How do I know that? BMW had a similar idea going in the 325 about 5 years ago and may still well have, I don't know - I never have driven one since because I escaped by sailing out on to the grass instead of into a guardrail. Scared me silly and illustrated once again that since it is impossible for the American public to learn how to drive so that electronic monkeys do it for them. Like this, ABS, Yaw Control , Airbags and all the other stupid add ons only make it harder to drive and add ridiculous weight.
      I realize that it is beyond the mental capabilities of 70% of the public to realize that they shifted the car from neutral into a forward gear and that the opposite action would help in the situation... Maybe if these idiots weren't wearing Scuba fins on their feet while driving the problem would fix itself....
        • 4 Years Ago
        I second that. And besides, how are you people, including posters here as well as Autoblog writers, call yourself automotive enthusiasts if you don't even know that a lot of people drive automatic using both feet? One on the break and the right on the gas! Have you ever driven behind a taxi?! Haven't you noticed constantly blinking stop lights? Wonder why? Because practically all taxi drivers drive with both feet. I can't believe nobody here can even imagine that. Among other advantages it cuts reaction time by at least 300 ms (which on freeway equals roughly 10 meters). It also helps a lot on icy / snow roads. And finally, this way one can actually manipulate automatic better than all that electronic shifters - for example, break and the same time only slightly releasing gas, so it won't downshift and yet there is enough power to accelerate (well, it works only with large motors, not puny ones that only can output power at red line).
        This development is very very frustrating.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Have you thought of modulating the throttle a bit to get that "weight transfer" you want? Unless you just need to keep your turbos megaspooled down an... offramp.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The systems in place don't activate on short or shallow brake applications.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Colin, that last comment was for Mr LSetc, not you. If you do not know why someone would do that, it is a bit complicated to explain. It is a very common practice in competition driving and as I have said I rented that POS BMW for a teaching gig at Buttonwillow, a trackday with sponsored tires and brake pads if you like...

        Read this under "Racing" and you will get the picture:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_braking

        Far from an idiot by the way, I just have had a lot of driving instruction and competition experience..
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tried it have we? I doubt it. Good that you know all though, I will rely on you for all things mechanical/electronic/electromechanical going forward. With the pedal to the mat , I double dog dare you to turn in hard and slap that brake pedal as hard as you can , momentary or no. Enjoy the ride....
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Far from an idiot by the way, I just have had a lot of driving instruction and competition experience.."

        The Interstate is not Le Mans.
      • 4 Years Ago
      See? this is why everyone should drive manual transmissions!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed!!! If you're driving a vehicle with automatic transmission, you're just an active passenger. I don't see the fun in driving without a stick. Just my $.02. I know other will disagree, but the true driving enthusiasts will be on my side.
        • 4 Years Ago
        >manual Golf GTI has break override

        Comment invalid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I tested my override Friday and it's quite sudden. While gently on the gas going about 20mph I hit the brake with my left foot and it felt like full braking power was applied. The car just *stopped* dead in it's tracks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That might be because you're not used to left foot braking. In that case it's difficult to modulate the brake pedal as gently as you would with a better trained right foot, and so you end up pressing it pretty hard. Try heel toeing it and see what happens... although if you're not used to that either you'll still have trouble.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In heel toeing, you press the gas after the brake, not the brake after the gas. The system shouldn't activate.

        In GM's case, they aren't even talking about stick shifts here, just autos.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I already have this so-called "enhanced smart pedal".

      It's called a clutch pedal.

      I wish we weren't so lazy here in the US that so many of us "need" auto tranny's in our cars. It also just adds unneeded complexity to the vehicle along with electronically controlled everything. XXXX-by-wire will be the death of us...
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