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McClatchy-Tribune  09/04/2014 12:01 AM ET
Toyota expands safety research with $35M commitment in Ann Arbor [Detroit Free Press :: ]

Sept. 04--Toyota announced today a $35-million investment over the next six years at its Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor.

The infusion of capital will allow the center, which is part of the Toyota Technical Center, to focus on the transition to automated and connected-vehicle technologies. The automaker is demonstrating some of that technology Thursday in Ypsilanti and Friday in Detroit.

"At Toyota, we believe in the fundamental principle that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen," said Osamu Nagata, CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, who made the announcement in Ypsilanti at the start of Toyota's three-day 2014 Advanced Safety Seminar.

New research will focus on guidelines for touch screens and sensors that deliver safety information to drivers and enable cars to communicate with each other to avoid collisions.

Cars, homes and offices will become increasingly connected; consumers will have more information delivered to them through cell phones, tablets, touch screens and wearable devices.

"As new automotive technologies continue to evolve, CSRC is committed to working with its partners across the industry and beyond to help realize a future of mobility that is safer and greener than today," Nagata said.

The center was created in 2011. Toyota employees work with institutions across North America to advance safety. The first phase of research was to conclude in 2016, but will continue through this decade.

Since 2011, Toyota has focused on active safety, driver distraction and protecting groups more at risk in crashes such as children, teens, pedestrians and seniors. It has launched 34 projects with 17 partners and completed seven of them.

"CSRC's newly expanded mission recognizes that the emergence of advanced technologies is radically reshaping the transportation landscape," said Chuck Gulash, the center's director. "Thanks to these exciting automated and connected-vehicle technologies, drivers and their vehicles are increasingly working together as teammates and sharing more responsibilities on the road."

So far, Toyota has developed standardized tests to detect potential collisions through mannequins and instruments that collect better data across multiple vehicle models.

The center has also studied the safety benefits of advanced driving technologies, such as pre-collision and lane-departure warning systems now offered by most automakers.

Another project examined seat belt fit and design for passengers of different ages and body types.

The center also developed the a program that helps automakers, suppliers, transportation agencies and academic researchers better understand how to prevent crashes.

Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or Follow her on Twitter @AlisaPriddle.


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