In a bid to reduce vehicle accidents, Toyota has announced that it is developing a range of new safety technologies. Surprising? Perhaps not, but one interesting innovation is a system which would reportedly take control of the car’s steering in order help avoid collisions.
The new Pre-Collision System (PCS) uses millimeter-wave radar and two cameras with infrared night vision. It aims to “reduce collision damage” by braking the vehicle if the driver neglects to do so before an impact. Similar automatic-braking technology is found on plenty of other modern cars. What’s unusual about PCS, though, is that Toyota says the system can take over steering control and “change the direction of the vehicle.” In other words, PCS will steer the car to help avoid hitting an object.
While it sounds like an ideal way to reduce car crashes, we do wonder how well the system will work in the real world. What if PCS causes the car to veer off into a ditch, or toward oncoming traffic, or into a nearby pedestrian? For now, we’re skeptical.
Speaking of pedestrians, Toyota also is developing a new pop-up hood that could reduce injuries when pedestrians are struck by cars. Although traffic deaths as a whole have been declining in Japan, pedestrian fatalities remain high. The new hood design pops up at the rear when the car impacts a pedestrian, providing more space beneath the hood and reducing the likelihood of head injuries to said pedestrian.
Toyota is also working on Adaptive Driving Beams, an improvement on automatic high-beam headlights. The system can partially shade the high-beam lights to prevent blinding oncoming traffic, while still providing strong illumination for the driver.Finally, the company says it is working on a system to monitor the driver’s health through the steering wheel. It could detect “sudden cardiovascular irregularity” — like heart attacks — and warn the driver and/or stop the car.
While most of these safety technologies are likely a few years away from appearing in a production vehicle, we’re still a little hesitant about an automatic steering system. Would you drive a car that automatically steered around potential accidents? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.