If you're worried about the consequences of stepping on the gas when you wanted the brake, the latest safety gadget from Toyota might be exactly what you're looking for. The automaker is using data taken from its cars over more than a decade and using that to help it decide when you've hit the wrong pedal.
From 2009 to 2011, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles after complaints of unintended acceleration. The cause of many of the incidents was blamed on two issues, a possibly sticking accelerator and floor mats that were trapping the pedal.
Immediately after that, Toyota took steps to make sure the problem didn't happen again. It quickly added software to most of its vehicles that ensured that drivers hitting both gas and brake would get only brake. That way the car would stop, accompanied by an on-screen warning that you were pressing one pedal too many. While this is bad for aspiring rally drivers, it's good for just about everyone else on the road.
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Toyota also has Intelligent Clearance Sonar available on many of its vehicles, a feature that will apply the brakes automatically if the driver is travelling at speeds under about 15 km/h and the sensors detect a collision with an object. This is helpful if you've engaged reverse instead of drive, or vice versa, in a parking lot.
Now, Toyota is introducing Acceleration Suppression, a feature set to launch this summer that uses data and computing power to ensure that unintended acceleration doesn't happen. The automaker looked at real collisions where the cause was pedal misapplication and then compared data from those crashes with that of other connected cars.
Through the data, Toyota identified situations where rapid acceleration was deliberate. Situations like turning with your signal on - at an intersection - or accelerating from a temporary stop - like a signal light or stop sign. With that information, Toyota says, it can identify times when the driver punched the gas but didn't intend to do it. It will then stop the car from accelerating, hopefully preventing a collision caused by using the gas and not the brake.
While the announcement said that the feature was set to launch this summer, that timeline came from Toyota in Japan. We've reached out to Toyota Canada for more information about when we could expect to see this safety feature arrive here.