In recent years, Toyota vehicles have been involved in a number high-profile accidents blamed on "unintended acceleration." And whether the root cause of these incidents boils down to driver error or faulty mechanicals, Toyota is working to address the issue.

One of two new systems in development at Toyota goes by the name of Intelligent Clearance Sonar. The technology is meant to reduce parking lot collisions by detecting objects out of the driver's sight. If an imminent collision is detected, the ICS system will automatically hit the brakes, reduce engine power and sound an alarm.

Toyota's other new safety system is Drive-Start Control. According to the automaker, if the system senses that the wrong gear has been selected from Park while the driver is pressing on the accelerator, a warning is flashed on the dashboard and engine output is reduced "to limit a sudden start or acceleration." There are a number of scenarios where the system might kick in – for example, if a driver bumps into something while reversing, panics and shifts into a forward gear without letting up on the accelerator, DSC would take over.

While such research is commendable, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has called for making such systems mandatory in coming years. And more and more automakers are investigating and/or committing to developing electronic failsafes to deal with unintended acceleration. Last month, Nissan announced a camera-based system designed to curb pedal misapplication.

Toyota says the systems will be available on future vehicles soon, a development that could give it a leg up on the competition if/when new federal rules are approved. Check out the official press release below.

Show full PR text
Toyota Readies New Technology For Safer Driving

New systems address common low and high speed collision risks

  1. Toyota produces new systems to help reduce common parking-speed collisions and high-speed rear-end shunts
  • Technology soon to be featured in Toyota production vehicles
  • Opening of new proving ground to test and evaluate Intelligent Transport Systems
  • New measures announced at Toyota's 2012 Safety Technology Seminar
Safer vehicles and the elimination of road accident injuries and deaths are central to Toyota's future transport strategy and at its annual Safety Seminar in Japan this week the company has revealed details of new technology to help prevent collisions – both familiar low-speed parking accidents and high-speed rear-end shunts.

It also has announced the opening of a new proving ground for testing Integrated Transport Systems (ITS) that use radio communications between vehicles, road infrastructure and pedestrians to improve safety.

Intelligent Clearance Sonar and Drive-start Control
A large number of collisions are caused by drivers hitting the wrong pedal or selecting the wrong gear, particularly when parking. Toyota has come up with two new systems to help reduce the consequences when this happens.

The Intelligent Clearance Sonar is able to detect obstacles that are outside the driver's line of sight and will automatically apply the brakes if there is a risk of a collision. Designed to be particularly useful when negotiating a car park, it will sound an alarm, reduce engine power and apply the brakes.

Drive-Start Control recognises if the wrong gear has been selected when the driver is applying the throttle. It will flash up a warning and reduce engine output to limit a sudden start or acceleration.

This can help, for example, 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 is set to introduce both systems in future vehicles.

Pre-Crash Safety system with Collision Avoidance Assist
Toyota has further developed its Pre-Crash Safety system with a collision avoidance function that can help reduce the consequences of rear-end impacts, even at high speeds.

This version of PCS – a technology already featured on a number of Toyota and Lexus models - uses a millimetre-wave radar to monitor the risk of collision with a vehicle ahead. If it detects an impact risk, it triggers an alarm and warning display to alert the driver to apply the brakes. When the brake pedal is pressed, the system will increase the braking force to up to twice the average level achieved by drivers**.

This can slow the vehicle down by up to 37mph* (60km/h). If the driver fails to step on the brakes, the system will automatically deliver deceleration*** of between nine and 19mph****.

Toyota's analysis of traffic accident data shows that more than 90 per cent of rear-end collisions happen when the difference in speed between two vehicles is within 37mph, so it set out to engineer a system based on this intelligence to deliver industry-leading safety performance. Already, the technology is being prepared for use in forthcoming models.

* Calculated from US accident data.
** When the driver's car is travelling at 50mph (80km/h) and the vehicle ahead at 12.5mph (20km/h).
*** Automatic deceleration at speeds of 9mph and higher.
**** When the driver's car is travelling at 31mph (50km/h) and the car ahead at 12.5mph (20km/h). Operation may be affected by road and weather conditions.

Intelligent Transport System proving ground
Toyota has opened a new proving ground to test and evaluate its Intelligent Transport System technology. The site extends over 3.5 hectares at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, creating a simulated city centre road system, complete with traffic signals.

It will allow Toyota to test a system for road-to-vehicle communications using a 700Mhz radio frequency in controlled but authentic traffic conditions. This transmission band has been approved by the Japanese government for ITS use, as it has the right reception breadth and quality to be suitable for connecting with vehicles at junctions and other locations where a driver's view may be limited.

When the proving ground is fully operational, Toyota will accelerate its research and development of environmental systems to improve fuel efficiency and driver support systems that can help reduce the risk of accidents with pedestrians and other road users in urban traffic.
Toyota is also undertaking R&D of systems that allow for a continuous exchange of road-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-vehicle and pedestrian-to-vehicle information.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think it's about time a Toyota had some acceleration. Unintended or otherwise!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice, more technology for stupid people. Can they make one for Toyota drivers to stay off the left lanes?
      • 2 Years Ago
      kinda funny headline/technology for just in case your car decides to do its own thing we added technology to stop it from doing its own thing...huh?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems as if most "unintended acceleration" is due to driver inattentiveness. All that these "safeguards" do is compensate for inattentiveness, thus causing drivers to become even more inattentive. The real solution is better education for drivers. The more that the driver is isolated from the vehicle and the road, the more complacent the driver will become (kind of like airline pilots who can't fly because "the computer" can fully control the plane from takeoff to landing.) People, all of us, simply need to become better drivers, and not rely on "mechanical" devices to drive for us and compensate for our inability.
      • 2 Years Ago
      ...and oddly, this 'new technology' from Toyota has been used by ALL other manufacturers for over ten years. and to those doubters who don't believe this condition exists on Toyota and Lexus models: perhaps you could explain how a CHP officer who was not just a CHP officer, but one who trained other CHPs in high speed and emergency maneuvers, could lose control and die in a loaner Lexus ES350. this very same loaner had been written up five times previously for exactly the same problem. his wife and brother in law were in the car (and also died), and the brother in law was on the phone in the rear seat, saying the start/stop button would not work, and the shift lever (which was drive-by-wire, and computer controlled, just like the start/stop button) would not shift out of drive, no matter what gear was selected. witnesses said smoke was pouring from the wheels, and the car left the roadway at 106 MPH, killing all of the occupants. now tell me this guy was an "idiot", wasn't prepared for any situation, system failure, panicked, or didn't know how to drive.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Being trained in high speed maneuvers that you're controlling is different than controlling a vehicle out of your control. It also doesn't address a dealer stacking floor mats. Did his emergency brake fail as well? Not sure what Lexus' have but Toyota's still have non computer controlled emergency brakes.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whatever happened to old fashioned driver accountability. Learning how to drive before getting into a car?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes indeed instead of fixing the problem they shift the blame to the driver and with those idiots on capitol hill they get carte blanche to use even more technology that can fail which is the root issue to begin with. Seriously there is no direct link to the throttle on most imports the throttle uses a master/slave servo to move the throttle hopefully in the manner you command. I however am an avid R/C Modeler both Ships and Planes and have had two crashes caused by a servo failing. Give me a direct linkage to my throttle,brake and transmission the odds are those cannot be hacked or scrambled by voltage surge or code line error.
        • 2 Years Ago
        All cars use drive by wire, not just imports. In fact, imports were some of the last to go fly by wire.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Electronic Throttle-by-wire has backup systems your R/C airplanes do not. Also R/C servos often default to center when signal is lost, while eletronic throttles deault to idle when signal or power is lost. The difference being that an Airplane will crash with no control, while a car will just lose the ability to accelerate (maintaining brakes and steering) if an ETC had a failure. Direct linkages have failures that ETC systems don't. Throttle plates get stuck wide open. Throttle cables get stuck in their sleeves. Foreign bodies get stuck in throttle plates. Try this experiment on a throttle-cable equipped car and an ETC equipped car. Remove the intake hosing so you car see the throttle plate. Start the engine. Now take a pencil and try to push the throttle open. On the cable equipped car the engine will race. On the ETC equipped car the engine controller will cut the fuel.
          • 2 Years Ago
          I've had 2 cable throttle bodies stick open in my life. Never had an ETC failure. Everything has a failure rate that people should be willing to accept upon product purchase.
      • 2 Years Ago
      For final conclusions on high speed UA wait for the big CA trial - 10 computer experts to analyze their secret code in a secure room. A computer glitch and a second simultaneous error such as from solder "tin whiskers" could be revealed - for RARE Sudden acceleration. It was not just mats, slightly sticking pedals and NOT driver pedal error for the hundreds of cases - some high speed - GM and others had hardly any per vehicle sold. Ford had corrected cruise control issues - had recent new cruise control recall. Hope there is a brake override mod available for the latest recalls this year. Earlier Toyota was adding it to recalls – for free I heard even if not recalled if the computer had enough memory for the easy fix. You pre-2011/2012 Toyota owners should insist on it. (You still have to use the correct pedal). NASA did not have the computer source code for their review. From NASA’s Kirsch summary of the redacted NASA reports – from last page in: "NASA detailed analysis and testing did not find evidence that malfunctions in electronic throttle control caused large unintended accelerations, as described by some consumer reports. NASA found a way that the electronic throttle control can fail, that combined with driver input, can cause the throttle to jump to 15 degrees open, but consumer reports of this condition is very low and it leaves evidence of occurrence. NASA found ways that the electronic throttle control can fail that results in small throttle openings up to 5 degrees.”
        • 2 Years Ago
        NASA did have Toyota's source and did review. NHTSA made that clear:
      • 2 Years Ago
      You. Can't. Fix. Stupid.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why don't they just introduce teaching people how to drive and control their car? You know, all those "issues" could have been sorted out by the drivers pushing the shifter one notch forward and putting it into neutral.
      • 2 Years Ago
      When will these idiots learn that driver competance is superior to all of their electro-gimicks.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Easy fix. Get rid of the all the crappy drive-by-wire nonesense and put a freakin' cable back in.
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