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New Toyota tech prevents unintended acceleration during parking

Driver-assist feature reduces engine output when the transmission is shifted suddenly from reverse to drive.

By Douglas Newcomb Nov 21, 2012 7:51AM

Toyota Intelligent Clearance Sonar. Image by Toyota.Along with other automakers, Toyota is releasing a flurry of active safety features that can control a car’s throttle, braking and other systems within fractions of a second to help avoid accidents.

Its latest feature is intended to reduce low-speed collisions in parking lots. But it could also assist in preventing unintended acceleration, an issue that that has plagued Toyota and forced recalls of nearly 9 million cars.

The new feature, called Drive-Start Control, kicks in when there’s a sudden shift of the transmission from reverse to drive while the accelerator is pressed and there’s a danger of inadvertently hitting an object in front of the car. According to a press release on Toyota’s global website, if the transmission “is erroneously shifted when the accelerator pedal is applied, or if other abnormal gear shifting is detected, a warning is displayed and engine or motor output is reduced to limit sudden starts or acceleration.”

Toyota says the feature could help drivers who might reverse in a parking lot, unexpectedly strike an object, such as a wall, then become startled and shift from reverse to drive while continuing to press the accelerator. In this instance, Drive-Start Control would warn the driver with an alert and reduce engine output so as not to cause even more damage to whatever is in front of the car.

Another technology, called Intelligent Clearance Sonar, detects obstacles such as a wall in a parking garage. To prevent or mitigate damage, Intelligent Clearance Sonar will sound an alarm, reduce engine power and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a fender-bender.

While Toyota doesn’t say when these features might appear on production cars, the EyeSight system available on some Subaru vehicles already delivers similar technology, including what's called Pre-Collision Throttle Management. If the car is shifted into drive instead of reverse and accelerates toward a wall, parked car or other object, Pre-Collision Throttle Management will warn the driver and reduce engine power until the brakes are applied.

Toyota Driver-start Control. Image by Toyota.[Source: Toyota]
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