By on March 9, 2010

Mazda doesn’t want to get caught in a “what did you know and when did you know it” and has decided to put brake override systems into all models to be launched anywhere in the world from now on, reports The Nikkei [sub].

Mazda also plans to put brake override systems into existing models when they get a refresh. A reflash of existing cars on the road was not mentioned. According to the Nikkei, Mazda “has not received any reports or complaints on problems or accidents stemming from faulty brakes or unwanted acceleration.” They decided do it “amid the growing worldwide interest in vehicle safety.” Any connections with Toyota are purely coincidental.

Speaking of Toyota, they will also equip all their models with brake override systems in the future. They will also reflash some of their existing models. Vehicles from Nissan already have the system.

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19 Comments on “Flash! Mazda To Introduce Brake Override...”

  • avatar

    Just as I’m tired that OEM’s don’t include the free technology of brake-override I’m tired of hearing of run-away cars cruising along at 94, 100, 120 mph before wiping out and becoming a crushed and burning wreck (or not).

    What I’m not clear on is why, with no speed limit in the US over 80 mph, why are the OEM’s at the same time not including speed limiters in new vehicles? And, wake up DOT, why is this not a part of FMVSS?

    In the old days, with mechanical systems, it was not economically feasible to include a reliable and tamper-proof speed-limiting device into vehicles. Now, it can be done for free, so political considerations aside, why is it not being done?

    • 0 avatar

      Did you actually just ask for speed limit control? Why not also allow the police to just turn off your car when they want, or full-time tracking so at any moment they know where you are, or how about road checks every five miles to make sure you are driving safe! I know… I know… that is pushing it, however at some point you have to rely on us citizens to actually think for ourselves over some politician or law.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep I did. All cars have a Vmax (generally) well above any max limit in the states. Why? Even if Vmax were limited to something slightly in excess of the max national limit, drivers would still have plenty of discretionary decision-making opportunities, and for the majority of law-abiding drivers, they would never see a difference in their vehicle’s performance.

      Turn-off the car too? Why not? Your electricity, water, phone, internet, cable-tv, home can be taken away if you don’t pay your bills, so why not your car if the tabs or insurance`aren’t paid?

      In the first case, hot-pursuit would never quite be so hot, and in the second case, hot-pursuit would last only until Johnny Law shows up (technically, the 2nd case would be more difficult to implement because you only want to turn off the target vehicle…)

      As a yank expat living in Switzerland (land of direct democracy) for the last 12 years, the random night-time traffic stops, and semi-annual vehicle and emissions checks, used to nerve me but when I read the news from home regarding unlicensed drivers, and unlicensed and uninsured vehicles, and when I see the bald-tired, duct-taped and rattle-trap vehicles cruising around, I ask myself why not?

      If we had such systems, and eventually versions that would regulate Vmax depending on GPS matching the vehicle to the limit the road was on, and use a driver’s license key-card (or fob equivalent) for starting and operating the vehicle a lot of current operating problems could be addressed … obviously, new operating problems related to theft and system manipulation attempts would occur which would have to be addressed (as with the introduction of any technology.)

  • avatar

    Love the picture.

  • avatar

    I don’t want brake override…if more cars are being stuck with automatics as the only option, powerbraking has its place in the world. Sometimes there are unintended consequences, too. Ever try to get a hybrid unstuck from a snow berm? I had the “pleasure” this winter. The damn computer does not allow for much wheelspin at all. Just trying to rock the car out resulted in a non stop flashing of the “slip” light. Is there a traction control override? Couldn’t find it (just got the car).

    And with all due respect Robert.Walter, if what you are proposing is a mandatory limit of 90 or so, I can’t see why you would post that on an auto enthusiast website. No flame intended, but do we really need yet another click of the noose on drivers? Sure, for the vast majority of drivers they would never notice, but if you live in the open part of the country, three figure speeds are not uncommon. Illegal perhaps, but so is dumping used oil on the ground. If the goal is to prevent runaway cars, how about getting rid of stupid pushbutton starters and go back to a direct wired key switch. No waiting for three panic filled seconds holding an unresponsive button. No possibility for the computer to ignore your input or restart the counter because you released the button for a split second. Ever see the oldie but goodie movie “Fail Safe”? There is a reason some things have a key switch that is controlled by a human.

    • 0 avatar

      As an car nut working in the industry going on 30-years (and in that time, on engine, chassis and safety-system development), I don’t see or feel the contradiction between this and what I’ve suggested above. As a former competitive driver, and one certified and comfortable driving triple-digit speeds, I never felt a great loss of enthusiasm when I had to drive safely or within a limit.

      Push-button start: Great-idea badly implemented (solution should have been along the lines of industrial tools, 0.5s max, with multiple stabs being interpreted as an off command.) As a guy, who has done recall investigation on key-starts, I can tell you that keyless, non-locking st. columns are a big improvement (there is plenty of space for defects and failure in both the lock cylinder and the lock mechanism), and what you suggest is a case of throwing the baby out with the bath-water.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, you knew this Toyota business was gonna land on everybody, and the schadenfreude and gloating of some wasn’t gonna be shared by those within the other OEMs, who now are having to divert scarce product development resources to address their supposed “shortcomings” in this area.

    Unfortunately, in recent automotive history, we’ve seen this often. The scare sweeps the buildings like yellow fever. Happened with TPMS. Happened with HIC. Happened with RSC. And on and on and on…

    “The Demon has shown Himself, in one of His many forms… we must immediately pull outselves out of our denial, don our sackcloth, and defeat Him.”

    Firedrills are time and momentum killers. They sap your vitality. That’s the evil of hysteria, it brings on these costly and unscheduled resource drains, and clumsily grafts immature and unrobust features and attributes into your production cycle.

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And usually rooted in accomodating driver stupidity.

    • 0 avatar

      Or in overcoming long unaddressed design shortcomings.

      Reality is that few OEM’s can afford to be the first-mover in safety technologies due to their inability to pass cost on to consumers.

      Once there is a standard in place, which all OEM’s have had an opportunity to influence – directly (via NPRM responses) and indirectly (via lobbyists) – the playing field is levelled and the log-jam is broken and the technology can be implemented without the need to hold-back.

      How is making a better product an endeavour to be equated with distraction and sapped vitality? In the case of mandatory safety features there is usually ample time for development and implementation so there should be little loss of organizational momentum. In the case of a brake-override feature being flashed into an existing fleet, such an action involves a tremendously small number of a major OEM’s development head-count and budget.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      So, you consider the abrupt introduction of TPMS to be necessary to address a previous “design shortcoming”? Odd, that.

      There was no “standard in place”, for that and other of these firedrills, there was only a hysterical scramble to cram feature and function into programs previously greenlighted as launch ready.

      Absolute madness.


      “How is making a better product an endeavour to be equated with distraction and sapped vitality?”

      I think if you’re unaware of the issues associated with the sudden introduction of the features I’ve mentioned above, and their impacts upon your question, then I suspect this discussion isn’t worth pursuing.


      And no, the sudden introduction of a brake override feature, involving cross functional development and coordination, is not a simple or costless activity. TPMS was a bleeding wound, across every platform, and this feature would be even worse than that. Think calibration and control… squared.

      Have you ever been involved in vehicle engineering and program management? And no, I’m not asking whether you’ve worked on some commodity, but rather have you worked at the vehicle level, and particularly been involved in that activity across multiple platforms, so as to see the real challenges in this regard, and their real effects on the program, and the impact of what it is you’re describing? Your observations do not match my experience, in any way, is what I’m getting at here.

      What you’re describing is a product development process that has ultimately driven the Detroit 3 to the suckling teat of Government Motors. Nothing less than that. It is a continuation of the historically hysterical product development cycle that brought on insolvency.

  • avatar

    Anyone surprised by this at all? I think brake override will be mandatory with the NHTSA before too long. Might as well get a start on it.

  • avatar

    Toyota seems to have put a lot of thought into their proposed brake-throttle interlock algorithm (or “schema”) so it is entirely transparent in normal use. This includes starting on a hill, getting the vehicle un-stuck, precision driving like up a ramp or onto a car lift, etc.

    Let’s hope Mazda is thinking along the same lines as Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      If the NHTSA were on the ball, they would be convening an industry round-table, similar to what they did with EDR back in about 2000, they would be able to develop an industry-wide set of minimum specifications (think sequences and timing) and standards (think PRNDL) and, as per normal FMVSS Standards, the actual design solution would be left to the OEM.

  • avatar

    OMG, is this why my Mazda suddenly and unexpectedly slowed down while I was on the highway this morning!!? It was terrifying, I kept pushing the accelerator frantically but the car kept going slower and slower!!! It’s like it was possessed or something!! I barely had enough time to call my congressman and plead for a hearing before I was stranded at the side of the road, and with coffee spilled all over my pants!

  • avatar

    Ever used a poor man’s limited slip? (power braking to climb a slippery incline) I have to do this to get our Odyssey up the rhino ramps if there is any precipitation on the ground. Useful trick on the boat ramp too. How’s that supposed to work if brake overrides are mandated?

    • 0 avatar

      Early-reports indicate Toyota’s new brake-override system takes this into account. As well as situations where people are trying to rock a car out of snow, etc.

  • avatar

    It will end up like this,
    Scene: A Car showroom
    Characters: A purchaser, A salesperson

    Salesperson: Welcome Sir/Madame, and thank for purchasing our SXV5000 SupuDupa Mobile
    Purchaser: Thankyou for your kind words, can I take my car home?
    Salesperson: No problems, just show me your licence to operate this vehicle and you can take it home.
    Purchaser: Licence to operate? why do you want to see my drivers licence?
    Salesperson: No, not your drivers licence, your operators licence to prove that you have had instruction on how to start, steer, brake and shut down this particular vehicle.
    Purchaser: Whaa???
    Salesperson: Well, back in the early 21st century a large car producer was brought down by drivers who didn’t know the basics of operating a large moving mass of metal and plastic. So they decided to actually educate and teach people how to operate said vehicles. Now you must know how to operate this vehicle, not mearly drive it……..

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