Drivers -- the fleshy, moist components usually used to control a car -- are pretty much irrelevant in this day and age. Just ask Toyota. It's developed a new pre-crash system that will automatically take control of the steering wheel, veering the car away from a collision if it isn't able to stop before an impact.
The system, according to the Detroit News, uses cameras and a millimeter-wave radar system -- the same technology used for whole-body, imaging devices at airports -- to detect cars and pedestrians ahead of the vehicle. If a collision can't be avoided using a car's automatic braking system alone, the electronic steering gubbins kick in to rapidly steer the car away from danger.
It's an impressive-sounding system, but its potential introduction raises many questions. Just how effective is it? Will it steer away from a potentially harmless fender bender only to plough into a pavement full of Hare Krishnas? Can the millimetre-wave radar scanning system be hacked so we can use it to see pedestrians naked? Please?
The pre-crash safety system, which was shown off at its facility in Susono, Japan, is part of Toyota's push to eliminate fatalities and injuries in crashes. Other new safety systems demonstrated included a steering wheel that monitors a driver's heart rate for signs of cardiac arrest, a 'pop-up' bonnet that deploys to reduce the force of pedestrian impacts and a windscreen that filters out high-beam headlights so drivers aren't blinded by oncoming cars.
Toyota has yet to confirm when these technologies will be rolled out, but has hinted each is at an advanced stage in their development and could be deployed in new cars soon.