Two new safety systems from Toyota were announced in Japan today that will better protect pedestrians and make highway driving safer.
The first is a more advanced adaptive cruise control system. Currently, some systems use radar to measure the distance to a preceding car and adjust speed. But today, Toyota announced something it calls “Automated Highway Driving Assist” (AHDA). It’s composed of two safety systems. Instead of using radar, vehicle-to-vehicle communication transmits speed data about the preceding vehicle, allowing following cars to react sooner.
Meanwhile, high-performance cameras and millimeter radar on the car’s sides to help maintain a centered position in the lane using the vehicle’s steering, driving torque and braking to maintain that position. Despite the near-autonomy, Toyota also said drivers will maintain full control over their vehicle.
On October 15, trials will begin on the Shuto Expressway in Japan, but the brand will also exhibit its system next week form October 14 through 18 at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress Tokyo. Arguably, the timing for improvements to its safety systems is will-placed. Toyota’s Prius scored miserably in new tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety designed to measure effectiveness in crash avoidance systems. The notably negative feedback has even spurred a nationwide class-action lawsuit against Toyota.
The brand plans to market AHDA in “the mid-2010s.” That could refer to anywhere from next year to 2016, although an introduction next year seems unrealistic. It might not be particularly useful, either, given the system’s reliance on connected car technology.
Toyota North America CEO Jim Lents has been outspokenly skeptical about the future of fully autonomous cars.
Toyota also announced today that it has developed a pre-collision system (PCS) that can apply braking and steering to better avoid hitting pedestrians. First, the system flashes a visual warning if a pedestrian is detected. Next, the car will sound an audio visual alarm. Finally, the car will be able to slow itself and steer to avoid hitting the pedestrian if there is space to do so. Toyota says the system will be able to avoid collisions at higher speeds than current technologies designed to avoid slower crashes.
That system will first arrive in a wide range of vehicles for the 2015 model year. It will be offered without steering assistance initially, with the more advanced version to follow.
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