By on August 2, 2017

Nissan’s new Rear Door Alert technology can help remind driver

Nissan is rolling out a safety feature called Rear Door Alert on the 2018 Pathfinder SUV. It’s aimed at preventing drivers from accidentally leaving items in the backseat on a hot day — important things like groceries, children, and dogs. While the automaker bills the feature as the “first-of-its-kind,” it’s essentially an improved version of General Motors’ Rear Seat Reminder.

According to Nissan, Rear Door Alert was developed by two engineers who also happen to be mothers. Elsa Foley is an industrial engineer and mother of two, while Marlene Mendoza is a mechanical engineer with three kids of her own. They were allegedly struck with the idea when Mendoza abandoned a pan of lasagna in her car, which made the interior reek of pasta  — hitting home the point that this system was definitely not inspired by another automaker.

“We pushed each other along and knew we were on the right track one morning when Marlene discovered she had left a pan of lasagna in the backseat of her car one night after coming home after a long day at the office,” said Foley. “The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘what if that had been something else back there?'”

Nissan’s new Rear Door Alert technology can help remind driver

The system works nearly identically to GM’s Rear Seat Reminder. Monitors on the back doors switches detect their open/closed status prior to and after a trip. If the car’s computer detects that a rear door was opened or closed prior to a trip, but not re-opened again following the trip’s completion, the vehicle responds with a series of notifications after engine shutoff.

What sets it apart from GM’s application is that, instead of only issuing a dashboard alert and faint chimes, the Nissan also issues a series of honks to help remind drivers to check the rear seat once parked. Our biggest complaint with Rear Seat Reminder was that it was too easy to miss when in a rush. By issuing a unique honk, Nissan’s system gives parents that additional stimulus to check the rear seats for errant children.

“The idea is if you open a rear door, whether to put a child or a package in the rear seat, the vehicle will help alert you when you get to your destination that you may want to check the rear seat,” said Mendoza. “We’ve built in enough time that you don’t have to rush, but if you don’t open the rear door again when you get out of the vehicle, we want you to think for a moment about what you may have put in the back seat.”

Despite the automaker touting the technology as an important safety measure against the summer heat, Rear Door Alert won’t appear until September. It will also only be available on the Pathfinder. While a useful feature even in the dead of winter, it’d be nice to have this for those months when heatstroke abounds, and in more vehicles than just Nissan’s three-row SUV.

GM took about six months to get Rear Seat Reminder into most of its fleet, after having debuted it on the Acadia last summer. Hopefully, Nissan has similar plants for its own safety system and can get it to more familial units soon.

[Images: Nissan]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

31 Comments on “Nissan Improves GM’s Rear Seat Reminder, Takes Credit for the Initial Idea...”


  • avatar
    thegamper

    Its a good feature, as cars become more connected, the ultimate would be for the car to send you a text reminding you that you placed something in the rear seat in addition to the audible warnings. Please contact TTAC to get my user information for royalty checks automakers. Thank you. Can I get this notarized?

    Nissan’s TPMS honk when you hit recommended PSI while filling your tires is a pretty useful little feature too. Im sure there are a number of other features that the honk could be used for. But so you don’t get it mixed up with the sound of remotely locking doors (in the case of rear seat reminder), perhaps a different sound than the standard horn. I see the lawsuit now. “I thought the honking was my doors locking, Nissan said I could never kill my kids by leaving them in a hot car.”

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Believe it or not, some of us don’t carry a phone every where we go…

      Texts as an additional feature, sure. I’ll stick with the horns. Maybe even roll down the windows automatically if the horns are heeded.

      Maybe even add a call to 911 if there is an unattended baby on board.

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        That’s ridiculous, remember your kids! We shouldn’t need car-based software as a nanny to make sure we don’t cook our kids. This is like trying to ban all violent/graphic television shows ‘because a kid might see it’. Be a parent, keep track of your kids.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    And we take one more step towards Idiocracy becoming reality.

    “Oh, but it’s for the children”. And the lasagna, evidently.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      if there’s one thing that never changes, it’s the B&B acting like none of them have ever made a mistake in their lives.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I make all sorts of mistakes, all the time. I try to learn from them.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          So you propose that the solution to a kid dying in a hot car is that the parent should learn from that mistake and not repeat it with their other children?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            They should refrain from breeding in the first place.

            How much protection from our own stupidity do we need?

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            Don’t feed the trolls…

            Kids fall asleep in cars, parents don’t always get enough sleep. Even if the parent is a moron, no child should pay that price. Ideally, should every parent always be 100% on top of things and be 100% present, sure. But as the world becomes more distracting and cars become more and more isolating, we are creating circumstances to leave kids in cars mistakenly. I’d much rather have some system like this mandated on all cars than things like blind spot monitoring and rear view cameras. Those 2 items are excuses for poor driving habits and worse auto design.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            “So you propose that the solution to a kid dying in a hot car is that the parent should learn from that mistake and not repeat it with their other children?”

            Correct. If parents are too stupid to realize they left a kid in the car, perhaps Darwin needs to kick in.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Correct. If parents are too stupid to realize they left a kid in the car, perhaps Darwin needs to kick in.”

            Typical old white guy. You’re all law and order, “lock ’em up and throw away the key” until it’s you or your kid who gets into trouble.

            THEN you’ll move heaven and earth to try to weasel out of it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Why does he have to be white?

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            Funny how JimZ turned this into a race thing. Is that how you approach all your arguments?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “Correct. If parents are too stupid to realize they left a kid in the car, perhaps Darwin needs to kick in.”

      Baking Hansel and Gretel in the back seat of a car took a sharp increase when baby seats were moved to the back of the car and modern distractions like your boss bitching at your ass over the cell phone on the ride to the grocery store.

      Its just not the province of middle school dropouts on a 144 hour meth marathon and it happens to pretty intelligent and responsible people as well.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    A horn means one thing, and only one thing, to me: “Get out of the way before you get run over!” I detest all the honks, beeps and flashes modern cars produce. My frequent response to them is, “F— off, Ralph.” For example, there is no need for a special signal for locking or unlocking. If you can’t hear the clunk from the locks, you are overdue for hearing aids.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      People complain about the “thunk” power locks make. Beeps and light flashes with no perceptible thunk are perceived as more “premium,” there’s a mountain of data supporting this.

      Copy this philosophy across the entirety of the car, to be honest.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      i can’t hear the clunk from my kitchen window when I’m trying to remote start. I can hear the beep though. Also ever forget if you locked the car or have a spouse who forgetfully doesn’t lock his/hers? Its nice to have an audible feedback you can hear without needing to open a window or go outside. I’ll get off your lawn now.

  • avatar
    deanst

    So when you’re on a shopping trip going to multiple stores and throw something on the back seat, it will honk every time you leave the vehicle for another store. Great.

    I can hardly wait to when the sensors malfunction and your car honks every time you leave it.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      Great point, point i’m guessing this feature can be turned off since it’s in the settings menu. Now only if nissan would let me turn off the Fucken TPMS for when I have my winter tires on.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        That’s not Nissan, that is your Government saving your from yourself. Thank Ford and Firestone for that one. The Europeans allow “winter mode”, the US does not. Of course, now there is again the option to just use the wheel speed sensors to detect a flat, so no such issues in a lot of cars, including my GTI.

        My favorite is makers like Subaru that make a dealer trip or a spendy gizmo necessary to marry the sensors to the car twice a year if you want to do snow tires correctly. Obviously too hard to just use the readily available self-initializing tech or the menu selection to learn new sensors tech that many use.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      That’s what trunks are for.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      Everyone talks about “sensors” like there’s some novel hardware involved. All this entails is the car’s main computer (Body-ECU, Body Control Module, or whatever you feel like calling it) literally just counting “door open/door closed” signals from the microswitches already in the door area. You know the little light or picture of a car that says “door open”? Same bit of hardware. It’s just a little bit of software to implement on any modern car, which is how GM rolled it out so quickly. (there’s no way they could get new wiring and hardware out to their entire fleet in 6 months)

      A “sensor malfunction” would be equivalent to the “Door ajar” light always being on (or off) in your dash. Since you probably wouldn’t see the switch cycle states, the system probably would never beep if a switch failed.

      It’s a clever idea, and doubly clever because it’s extremely “dumb” (simple).

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Everyone talks about “sensors” like there’s some novel hardware involved.”

        Because everyone here is deathly afraid of things they don’t understand.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Maybe add a voice over the car audio system that reminds you to check for children in the backseat?

        Our car will speak up and warn the front seat occupants to buckle up and detects if someone is in the individual seats.

        Could also throw a picture of the backseat onto the dash screen for a minute once you engage park/turn off the engine (manual transmission).

        Or – push a button when you get into the car that indicates there are children in the backseat and the car gets really obnoxious if you walk away without removing them from the car. Purely voluntary.

        Years ago I was driving to the daycare school with my first child in the car – tired and distracted, mind clicking off the day’s needs – when I realized for a few minutes I had forgotten him in the back seat.

        I was still driving, never any danger but it was scary to realize that I had forgotten him. Imagine doing that earlier in the drive and just going to work or the store.

        I don’t like car nanny tech but this one is something I would get behind. Just make sure it can be turned off deep in the settings.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I say it’s a fine idea. What’s one little chime or honk if it saves lives. Besides, you could turn it off if you don’t have children and aren’t in danger of leaving a lasagna in your backseat.

    Nissan already has the system that will emit an exterior honk once for each tire once you inflate it to the correct pressure, so this can just tie into that.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    Why can’t the car just say “check the back seat” instead of a mindless honk that could be misunderstood?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    So?

    Nissan made a great error with the Pathfinder.

    It should of remained a real off road capable SUV.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    all these people pushing for this ‘technology’ are just plain stupid. They are purely driven by emotion.

    Lets think it thru logically.

    If this tech costs just $1 per car, that’s ~17 million dollars.

    37 kids die in hot cars ever. about half due to being forgotten if this tech is perfect ~19 will be saved every year.

    Which means you want to spend ~$900,000 to save one life. How many other lives can be saved with that amount of money?

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • MitchConner: Tool Guy (great username by the way — as it fits), Nikola already conceded they fraudulently represented...
  • Inside Looking Out: I always liked the bold futuristic style of end of 1950s American cars given that I saw them only...
  • Pinkharlem: We have a beautiful 1981 Corona Hatchback that belonged to my father. My mother has been trying to sell...
  • Lou_BC: “The same people who recognize the greed will stay away” Agreed. I’d like to buy a new...
  • mcs: You’re probably thinking of their gas-powered models which do have a problem with catching fire. Hopefully...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber