Smart Accelerators Reduce Mat Dangers

Oct 20, 2009

Toyota recently issued a massive recall due to the possibility of floor mats in its vehicles moving forward and jamming the accelerator while engaged. 


Affecting nearly3.8 million vehicles, Toyota is acknowledging the problem on a grand scale.  However, the automaker is not planning on redesigning the floor mats, instead requesting that customers simply remove them.  In the wake of this issue, some auto manufacturers are considering a new technology that would help to nullify the problem: smart gas pedals.


The new technology tells the car’s engine to ignore the gas pedal’s input if the brake is depressed at the same time. “It is an additional safety feature,” said Thomas Plucinsky, a spokesman for BMW. “The brake takes precedence.”  The technology, which utilizes a drive-by-wire accelerator, only engages when the vehicle is in motion.


A spokesman for Toyota confirmed that while not considering replacing its defective floor mats, his company is considering something like a smart gas pedal system as one option for eliminating accidental acceleration.


The system has already worked for other automakers.  Audi and Volkswagen already have smart pedals in place, and Nissan plans to include the feature on the 2010 Infiniti M.  Chrysler utilizes a similar technology that brings the car’s engine speed to idle when both pedals are used.


As useful as smart pedals may sound, some companies don’t see the point. Chris Naughton, a spokesman for Honda, says his company will “continue to accept application of the accelerator and brake pedals as representing the driver’s intention.”


Photo courtesy of danielctw under the Creative Commons License.