TMC enhances vehicle technologies for safer traffic environments
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) unveiled today technologies aimed at increasing safety for pedestrians and elderly drivers, as part of its initiatives to eliminate traffic casualties.
Data1 shows that, in Japan, although traffic deaths have halved in the past 10 years, pedestrians now account for more traffic deaths than those by people aboard vehicles (35.2% compared to 32.9% in 2010). Data also shows that more than half (50.4%) of traffic deaths are suffered by people 65 years of age and older and that nearly half (49.3%) of all deaths occur during between sunset and sunrise.
In response, the technologies unveiled today include a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with collision-avoidance assist, glare-preventing adaptive driving beams (ADB) and a pop-up hood for lessening pedestrian injury.
TMC, since its founding, has made its mission to contribute to society through the manufacture of automobiles. This has been reflected in the Toyota Global Vision announced in March this year, under which TMC has committed to producing cars that are safe, provide peace of mind and that move people not only physically but also emotionally. TMC has long conducted safety-related activities based on three pillars: development of safe motor vehicles, educational activities concerning traffic safety, and participation in traffic-environment development. Learning from real-world accidents and continuously improving its testing, products and services is TMC's fundamental approach—under the Integrated Safety Management Concept2—to developing safe vehicles. This has led TMC to establish the Collaborative Safety Research Center this year in the United States to conduct joint research with universities, hospitals and research organizations in North America.
TMC's Enhanced Safety Technologies
1. PCS with Collision-Avoidance Assist
TMC is aiming to develop vehicles less likely to be involved in accidents, including vehicles fitted with advanced PCS technologies.
1) Rear-End Collision and Pedestrian Accident Countermeasures
In contrast to TMC's current PCS, which is designed to predict collisions under certain situations and aims to reduce collision damage, the PCS under development is designed to aid in avoiding collisions. The system uses millimeter-wave radar and stereo cameras to detect pedestrians and vehicles in front. In addition, the system emits near-infrared beams to enhance visibility at night. This new PCS is designed to avoid collisions should the driver not apply the brakes, though the effectiveness of the PCS depends on the driving environment and circumstances.
2) Lane Departure Prevention
This system, an advancement of the PCS designed to avoid rear-end collisions and accidents involving pedestrians, addresses lane deviation by integrating control of the brakes and the steering. The system is being developed to comprehensively monitor a broad set of circumstances outside the vehicle, including the location of roadside obstacles and approaching vehicles, evaluate collision risks, change the direction of the vehicle and navigate a safe route, thus helping the driver avoid an accident.
2. Other Safety Technologies
In addition to the above outlined PCS technologies, TMC is also developing a broad range of technologies aimed at protecting those most vulnerable in traffic accidents, such as pedestrians and elderly drivers.
1) Adaptive Driving Beam
Two years ago, TMC launched automatic high beams. When a camera installed on the vehicle detects the taillights of vehicles ahead or the headlights of oncoming vehicles, the high beams automatically switch to low beams to enhance nighttime visibility. TMC has further improved this system so that high-beam light from an ADB-fitted vehicle is partially shielded to prevent light from directly striking the drivers of vehicles ahead and oncoming to prevent vision-impairing glare. This is aimed at allowing drivers to maintain near-high beam illumination to improve nighttime visibility and at contributing to a reduction in accidents involving pedestrians and other vehicles.
2) Pop-up Hood
Since 2001, TMC has been introducing and expanding the use of vehicle-body structures designed to decrease pedestrian injuries. The new vehicle-body structures are based on the results of testing and verification using both conventional crash-test dummies and THUMS virtual-human models3. TMC's newly developed pop-up hood helps reduce pedestrian head injury caused by collision with a vehicle—even when a vehicle has a low hood with limited space underneath—by automatically raising the rear of the hood to increase the space underneath.
3) Emergency-response Technology
Sudden cardiovascular irregularity (such as ventricular fibrillation) while driving can cause a driver to lose consciousness, thus creating a potentially dangerous situation. TMC's newly developed emergency-response technology is the result of research on a system to monitor cardiovascular functions through the driver's grasp of the steering wheel and to detect risks. By conducting further research, TMC aims to commercialize a system that can contribute to the prevention of major accidents caused by sudden changes in the driver's physical condition. TMC plans to publicly exhibit details of its research at the 28th General Assembly of the Japan Medical Congress starting on April 2 at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center in Odaiba, Tokyo.
1From the Japanese National Police Agency
2An approach to safety that seeks to provide the driver with comprehensive support in all aspects of driving and not focus solely on independent safety systems.
3The models facilitate in-depth computer analysis of injuries sustained during traffic accidents. "THUMS" stands for "total human model for safety".