Gas pedal warns drivers to brake |

Gas pedal warns drivers to brake

AP Photo

YOKOSUKA, Japan – A new safety feature being developed by Nissan Motor Co. causes a car’s gas pedal to lift by itself to alert the driver of a possible collision. The new technology, shown to reporters this week, combines radar sensors and a computer system to judge a car’s speed and the distance to the vehicle in front.When the car senses a possible head-on crash, the gas pedal automatically rises against the driver’s foot as a signal to step on the brake.

If sensors detect a possible collision ahead, the brake automatically kicks in when the driver lifts his or her foot off the gas.A buzz also goes off in what Nissan engineers tentatively dubbed the “magic bumper.”Skeptics may see the technology as obtrusive, perhaps even risky, given that some drivers may prefer to rely on their own reflexes.

But Nissan says the magic bumper is helpful because research has shown more than half of traffic accidents are caused by inattention, drowsiness and carelessness, rather than error in judgment, speeding or drunken driving.Senior manager Yousuke Akatsu said Nissan hopes to offer the safety feature in about two or three years in Japan and also aims to offer it in the United States and Europe, although no plans have been set.

The technology is part of the Tokyo-based company’s larger effort to create the accident-proof car. So far, Nissan offers cruise control, warnings for cars veering off lanes and a system that helps drivers brake harder in emergencies.Also demonstrated this week was a car-navigation monitor that uses digital cameras to show a computer-graphic bird’s eye view of the car. The system can, for instance, help drivers steer into tight parking spots.Major automakers have been developing such features to attract buyers.

Toyota Motor Corp. has a system in which the car parks by itself – even if the driver has no hands on the steering wheel.U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. has shown an experimental inflatable seat belt that deploys inside the shoulder belt in a crash.

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