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Toyota to start deploying vehicle-to-vehicle tech in 2021
April 16, 2018
© Phys.org 2003 - 2018, Science X network
Source; excerpts:

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Toyota says it will start equipping models with technology to talk to other vehicles starting in 2021, as it tries to push safety communications forward. The company says most of its U.S. models should have the feature by the mid-2020s.

Vehicle-to-vehicle signals can warn others of heavy braking ahead or that another vehicle is headed into their path…

Toyota is leading on automatic emergency braking, making it standard on all but four models. The industry has agreed to make it standard on all models in 2022.

Article
NHTSA on Automatic Emergency Braking
Related: Why Is Toyota So Far Ahead Of Other Carmakers In Rolling Out Crash Avoidance Technology?; Forbes, 12/22/17; © Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved:

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… Toyota is the one skewing the curve when it comes to measuring industry progress. The Japanese automaker equipped 1.4 million vehicles -- or 56 percent of its 2017 model year fleet -- with standard AEB, the most by far of any carmaker. General Motors has the second-highest number of 2017 models with standard AEB — 551,777 of 2.8 million vehicles, or 20 percent of its 2017 fleet. Honda is third-highest with 492,330 of 1.6 million vehicles, representing 30 percent of its 2017 fleet.

Toyota includes AEB in a bundle of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense that is included for no extra charge on many of its vehicles. Most other manufacturers offer these systems as optional features that are bundled into expensive trim packages, often with other features consumers don't want, or can't afford.

Toyota's head start may well stem from improvements in safety practices it made in the wake of a recall crisis involving unintended acceleration that engulfed the automaker in 2009 and 2010. The company stepped up its commitment to safety in 2011, creating a new Toyota Safety Research Center in Michigan, and vowing to share its work with other carmakers. In 2014, the company admitted misleading consumers and regulators about the issue, reaching a $1.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and agreeing to oversight by a federal monitor. In October, a federal judge dismissed a criminal charge against Toyota after it completed its punishment…

Related: Toyota to Pay $1.2B for Hiding Deadly 'Unintended Acceleration'; ABC News; 03/19/14; © ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved:

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Car manufacturer Toyota has agreed to pay a staggering $1.2 billion to avoid prosecution for covering up severe safety problems with "unintended acceleration," according to court documents, and continuing to make cars with parts the FBI said Toyota "knew were deadly."…

But today Toyota admitted that the recalls did not cover all the cars they knew were in danger and said that they also concealed another cause of sudden acceleration they had found during their investigations – "sticky" pedals, which refers to the accelerator getting stuck partially depressed...

My, what a tortured path!

Sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) has plagued automotive manufacturers for decades (remember Audi in the 80s?). Aside from occasional design flaws (like GM in the 50s), such incidents were largely thought to be cases of driver error: Basically, pressing on the accelerator while believing one was pressing on the brake pedal. The unexpected movement of the vehicle naturally caused the driver to press HARDER on the brake pedal (the accelerator), which often led to tragic accidents.

Since, to defend themselves in litigation, the manufacturers would have to "blame the victims" (I.E.: their customers); and since juries would likely be sympathetic to the victims, manufacturers often reached out-of-court settlements. These were less expensive and "quieter" than trials and helped protect the manufacturers' reputations. (Asserting "driver error" does not make for good press.) Except for some high-profile cases, this was the "environment" for SUA litigation.

However, as vehicles continued to become more technologically advanced and complex, I think the quiet "driver error" settlements may have made manufacturers somewhat complacent. They may not have taken SUA complaints seriously and did not drill down into their own designs as possible causes; or worse, they DID but tried to hush it up with settlements. Either way, SUA litigation (and concomitant investigations) began to pick up around the turn of the century.


I remember when the Toyota "wrong floor mat" incidents were in the news but until researching this article, did not notice (or perhaps do not remember) the "sticky gas pedal" settlement. However, since this has apparently led directly to Toyota's current commitment to safety, which they are backing up with actions and leadership instead of just words, I comment them for their efforts.

The wireless, inter-vehicular communications concept is intriguing, and has potential to enhance safety (albeit only betwixt similarly equipped vehicles). Like most other newer driver-assist technologies, this is intended to work with an attentive driver, who is actually part of the system.
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2 Comments On This Entry

Interesting. But it seems like someone could come up with a way to fake the "hard braking ahead" signal and force cars to emergency brake themselves, since the article says Toyota is also installing automatic emergency braking in all their cars in a few years. Thus a safety feature becomes a danger. I also see this as a way to give police a way to control your car. If they can force software or phone companies to provide back doors they can force car manufacturers to do it too.
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I agree. Someone could figure out the wavelength and signaling, build a portable transmitter, then cause people’s cars to act in unexpected manners. I would like to think that Toyota (and other manufacturers) are considering this possibility and are determining some ways to prevent it.

Whether the manufacturers would give law enforcement the ability to “put the brakes on” any vehicle they choose is a good question. I think a lot of their potential customers would refuse to buy the technology (or the car), which would defeat the purpose of developing it in the first place. (They’ll need a lot of cars on the road with this technology for it to be truly effective in reducing accidents.) Also, I suspect the ACLU (and/or others) would step in; then we’d have an interesting court case to watch.

Finally, if this technology becomes as widespread as intended, then why not have red traffic lights, stop signs, and speed limit signs (etc.) sending “slow down/stop” signals to approaching cars? In the imagined world of all-autonomous vehicles, this would be quite sensible. Of course, I don’t feel this way; I’m just speculating on the technological progression if enough folks want personal automotive transportation without the “bother” of actually driving it.
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