Toyota system automatically stops car before it hits a pedestrian

Taking collision-avoidance technology into the crosswalk

With collision-avoidance systems becoming more advanced and widely used, Toyota has taken the technology up another level by fashioning a system that can detect not only other vehicles but human beings in the roadway.

And it will stop the car if the driver doesn't.

(2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

From an IDG News Service story by Martyn Williams on our site:

The system, which will begin appearing in Toyota cars in the near future, is built on existing pre-collision detection technology that is already fitted in some Toyota cars and those of competitors. Those systems are designed to guard against collisions with large objects, such as stopped vehicles or walls, and don't do a good job when it comes to people.

Toyota's new system, which it says is a world's first, uses a millimeter wave radar and stereo camera to constantly monitor what's in front of the vehicle.

This video shows the technology in action.

As you can see, the mannequin used in the demonstration is of adult size, so it's not clear whether the system is capable of saving a small child or the family pet. In addition, the demonstration doesn't tell us how well it will work when it doesn't have such a distance and so much time to intervene.

Nonetheless, it's mighty impressive.

(Update: Great comment about Toyota’s technology over at Hacker News: “Hmmm, but is there a way to override this? What if I'm trying to run my car into mannequins?”)

(Update 2: Another HN reader points out that Toyota's claim to be first with this technology is a load of rubbish. Volvo has been avoiding mannequins for more than a year.)

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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