A Safety Leader
But, true to form, it didn’t stop there.
Less than a week later, Toyota confirmed it would make such technology — as well as other active safety systems — standard on nearly every one of its models and trim levels by the end of 2017, a full five years ahead of the industry.
“Toyota is committed to creating better ways to move for everyone,” says Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “High-level driver assist technologies can do more than help protect people in the event of a crash. They can help prevent some crashes from happening in the first place. We are proud to help lead this industry in standardizing these systems and bringing automated braking to our customers sooner rather than later.”
This bold step forward is known as Toyota Safety Sense. It’s a suite of technologies that comes in two forms: Toyota Safety Sense-C (TSS-C) and Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P). It’s already built into several 2017 model year vehicles currently on Toyota dealership lots, including Yaris, Corolla, Prius, Avalon, RAV4 and Highlander. Nearly all the rest, including the eighth-generation 2018 Camry, will be added to this list in the fall.
While not every customer will say that safety is a prime concern when they shop for a new vehicle, it’s always in the back of their minds. TSS can help ease their concerns if customers have a good understanding of what it is and what it does.
The big picture is that TSS aims to help mitigate, if not prevent, three common causes of accidents by:
- Preventing or mitigating frontal collisions
- Helping keep drivers within their lane
- Enhancing road safety during nighttime driving
A quick dip into the details helps explain how the different technologies, working together, are designed to achieve that objective.
Pre-Collision System (PCS)
This is the core TSS technology. It relies on an in-vehicle camera and a laser (TSS-C) or a millimeter-wave radar (TSS-P) and is designed to constantly monitor the road ahead of your vehicle. If the system calculates a high possibility of a collision:
- A warning icon will flash in the instrument panel display and an audio alert will sound.
- If you respond by stepping on the brake pedal, the system might use Brake Assist (part of Toyota’s Star Safety System) to automatically increase the braking force.
- If you don’t respond in time, increasing the likelihood of a collision, the system may automatically apply the brakes and bring the vehicle to a stop. Approximately two seconds later, the system will release control of the brakes, letting you decide what to do next.
- There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you press down on the accelerator and turn the steering wheel sharply, the system might conclude that you’re taking evasive action — in which case automatic braking will not engage.
- TSS-P is designed to detect not only vehicles, but also — under certain circumstances — a pedestrian that crosses your path. The new Camry is among the vehicles that include this feature.
Lane Departure Assist (LDA)
This system uses the in-vehicle camera and is designed to monitor the vehicle’s position relative to the white and yellow lane markings on the road. If LDA determines that you’re inadvertently drifting out of your lane, a dashboard icon will flash and an audio alert will sound to bring this to your attention.
Going a step further, TSS-P vehicles equipped with steer assist may provide small corrective steering inputs for a short period of time to help get you back on track.
Automatic High Beams (AHB)
Both versions of TSS include this system. Once you engage the system and if you’re driving at night in low light, it automatically turns on your vehicle’s high beam headlights. But if the in-vehicle camera detects the headlights of an oncoming vehicle or the taillights of a preceding vehicle, it is designed to switch to low beams — flipping back to high beams once the other vehicle is not present.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
TSS-P equipped vehicles also incorporate an advanced cruise control system. As with conventional systems, you can set a specific cruising speed. However, with DRCC, if the in-vehicle camera and front-grille mounted millimeter-wave radar determine that your preset speed is higher than the vehicle traveling directly in front of you, it will automatically dial back your vehicle’s speed until your preset following distance has been reached. As the vehicle ahead speeds up, DRCC will speed up as well while maintaining the safe preset follow distance all the way up to your original set cruising speed. If the vehicle ahead moves out of the way, DRCC will return your vehicle to its preset cruising speed.