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Toyota shows safety features in the works

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A Toyota car stops automatically before a dummy during a precollision test in a demonstration of new safety technologies in Japan.

associated press Enlarge

SUSONO, Japan — Toyota Motor Corp. is developing safety technology that takes control of the steering so the vehicle can veer away when it isn’t able to stop before impact.

The company showed some of its safety innovations in a demonstration this week at its facility west of Tokyo, near Mount Fuji.

All automakers are working on safety technology in an effort to woo customers, as competition intensifies among manufacturers already neck-and-neck in other features.

Cars that stop or slow down automatically before an object or person in anticipation of a possible crash are not new. But Toyota’s latest precollision system adds a steering-control feature. In the new system, Toyota uses cameras and a super sensitive radar called “millimeter-wave,” both installed in the front of the vehicle, to detect hazards such as a pedestrian crossing the road.

The vehicle calculates how braking and steering must be applied to avoid a crash, chief safety technology officer Moritaka Yoshida said.

The Japanese automaker declined to say when the feature may be offered on a commercial model, or in which markets, but officials hinted it was ready to be offered soon.

In one feature, Toyota showed what is called a pop-up hood, which rises slightly in a crash, to mitigate the impact of a pedestrian getting hit by a car, similar to features offered by European makers.

Toyota also showed a steering wheel in development that measures the heartbeat of the driver to prevent crashes that can happen when drivers suffer heart attacks.

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