Toyota Makes Walking Safer

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
toyota makes walking safer

Say what you want about the nannyfication of cars, about gadgets that disturb the intimate relationship between man and machine. But a lot of the drastic decline of fatalities on the road goes on account of cars made safer with little electronics brains. Now, the brains think of people not even in the car.

In some countries, such as Germany and Japan, being in a car is already safer than not being in a car, at least statistically. In both countries, more non-motorists die in the streets than vehicle occupants. In the U.S.A., people dying in the car still outnumber dead pedestrians and bicyclists 5:1. If you really want to live dangerously, drive – or walk – in China. The Middle Kingdom is not only the world’s largest car market, it also tops the charts in traffic deaths.

Making the car safer not just for people in the car, but also for people who don’t drive, is the big challenge facing automakers (apart from plain survival of the car company.)

Today at the Higashi Fuji Technical Center in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, Toyota demonstrated to journalists what they can do to reduce the car-nage. Driving at 40 kilometers an hour (25 mph) a car outfitted with sensors and electronics automatically recognized a pedestrian ahead. The driver would have (in this case intentionally) run over the person. The car stopped and the crash test dummy lived to fight traffic deaths another day.

The other day, Automotive News [sub] reported about a similar system by Volvo that helps avoid accidents at speeds up to 19 mph.

In Susono, Toyota showed a whole array of pre-collision and collision avoidance systems, some of them still in development, some ready to hit the road.

Rear-End Collision and Pedestrian Accident Countermeasures: This system uses millimeter-wave radar and stereo cameras to detect pedestrians and vehicles in front. The system “is designed to avoid collisions should the driver not apply the brakes.”

Lane Departure Prevention: This system looks for roadside obstacles and approaching vehicles, it evaluate collision risks, and change the direction of the vehicle when needed.

Adaptive Driving Beam: This high beam does not just switch from high to low when it detects the taillights of vehicles ahead or the headlights of oncoming vehicles. It partially shields portions of the high-beam from striking vehicles ahead, while leaving the rest illuminated.

Pop-up Hood: Think of it as an airbag for pedestrians. In an accident, it helps reduce pedestrian head injury by automatically raising the rear of the hood to increase the space underneath. The head won’t smash through the hood on the motor block, the hood cushions the blow.

Emergency-response Technology: With all the safety gadgets, some day it will be down to one eventuality: The driver has a heart attack, everybody dies. Unless there is a new computer on board. The system detects sudden cardiovascular irregularity and brings the car to a stop. Just don’t look at hot babes with that system and lose a few heartbeats.

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2 of 13 comments
  • Carlisimo Carlisimo on Jul 21, 2011

    I wish all the other cars on the road had those adaptive driving lights.

  • R H R H on Jul 22, 2011

    I can see this NOT being useful in some countries/situations. I fear night time driving in my wifes country as it's common to leave items in rural locations in the road so when people stop they can be car jacked. Sometimes there's no shoulder. If this becomes common, how would that situation be handled? How is this handled in a stick car?

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that