Back in 2010, Toyota Motor Corp. was embroiled in a global recall scandal over a rash of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The cause was sometimes mistaking the gas pedal for the brake.
Fast-forward a decade, and Toyota is rolling out a new technology that can determine whether a driver is likely to have stomped on the accelerator by mistake — and stop the car from zooming ahead.
Toyota calls the setup an acceleration suppression function, and it will be introduced this summer, first in Japan and then across the lineup and overseas.
Toyota believes the technology will reduce the number of accidents caused by pedal misapplication.
It is a global problem, but it is especially acute in Toyota's Japanese home market, which has experienced a surge in fatalities from such accidents among the nation's aging populace.
"Elderly drivers are a bit slower in response," says Seigo Kuzumaki, the company's fellow for advanced R&D and engineering. Toyota believes the feature can slash the number of these accidents by up to half, Kuzumaki said.
The system uses big data to instantly judge whether a pedal mix-up has occurred. Toyota collected real-world driving information, gleaned through data communication modules installed in newer Toyota vehicles, to map typical pedal-misapplication scenarios. The data modules relay information to a central server about a vehicle's operation, such as the acceleration position, braking and turn signal use.
Toyota then used it to calculate an algorithm that helps guard against unintended acceleration. When the software senses something wrong, it suppresses the acceleration automatically.