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Toyota tries to 1-up Volvo

According to The Detroit News, Toyota is working on a new pre-crash system that will actually take control and steer the vehicle to minimize impact in the event of an unavoidable collision. The system combines super-sensitive radar with a camera array in the front fascia to detect possible impacts. On-board computers then calculate the correct levels of braking and steering required to avoid the crash, and if the driver fails to act, the automatic system takes over.

Like most manufacturers, Toyota has the admirable goal of reducing injuries and fatalities in its products to zero, though The Detroit News reports that the automaker wouldn’t comment on when we could expect to see the innovations on the road. The pre-crash steering is specifically designed to reduce the chance of a vehicle-pedestrian impact, and Toyota is also working on systems to accommodate drivers who have heart attacks while behind the wheel.

It’s true that vehicle fatalities have seen a steady decline over the past few years thanks to improved safety technology, but as cars get safer, drivers become even more detached from the task at hand. Economists call it a Jevons Paradox; drivers have effectively consumed the safety benefits supplied by car companies to become lazier and less safe than they would be without the tech. Maybe Toyota should find a way to force drivers to put down their phones, shut off their infotainment screens and simply drive. Just a thought.

I’m in agreement with the 2nd to last sentence of the article

I wouldn’t be surprised if GM and Ford aren’t working on something similar also. Don’t expect to see something like this out in at least 10 years…

A scary thought. When will someone with too much to drink try it out. Really, there are a lot of safety devices many poo pood in the beginning that we now take for granted as worthwhile. Abs, air bags, stability control…even seat belts and telescopic steering wheels. But I’m only speaking for myself.

I am reminded of a science fiction story many years ago. The spacer jumped in his new rocket, and went racing off to fight evil.

He knew about the pirate sector, so he set up a flight plan to go around it. Next thing he knew, he was right in the middle. The flight computer had realized it was shorter to go through, so it over-rode his flight plans

The whole story, the flight computer was canceling his instructions, and he kept surviving by the skin of his teeth.

I can see that computer tossing the car off a cliff to avoid a head-on.

“The whole story, the flight computer was canceling his instructions, and he kept surviving by the skin of his teeth.”

They never would have made the movie if he took the long way home.

Some luxury cars will park themselves for you. Many now have active braking control to help avoid accidents. This seems like a reasonable combination of the two. I’m sure that Toyota or any other major manufacturer will not deploy this until they have tested it thoroughly. Even then, Toyota will only offer it at first on the top of the line LS and LX vehicles to get a better idea of how well it works before slowly brining it down to the Camry. And there are people for whom tihs would be a great benefit. I’ll probably be so old by the time it is available on something I can afford that it will be perfect for me in case I indulge in an afternoon siesta behind the wheel.

I personally think the potential is there…If they can make the system reliable enough…

As for the computer making the wrong decision…I’m sure there would be safety features to prevent this…You’re going to need some sophisticated hardware and software though. I envision the day where cars will be able to drive themselves. You’ll just be a passenger. But probably not for about another 50 years. If Moore’s law is still in effect then maybe sooner.

I agree on the issue of reliability. We have computers making uncountable numbers of decisions in cars today, and with remarkable success.

Oneupsmanship should produce a better end product but let’s wait a few years for the ideas and technology to shake out.