Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the new feature would be part of Toyota's Safety Sense package.
TOKYO -- Toyota will roll out a new safety system that counters misapplication of the accelerator pedal, separate from but adding to features already included in its Safety Sense package of anti-crash technologies.
The recently developed system will be offered as an option on new vehicles in Japan from this summer, and the automaker expects to introduce it to other markets thereafter.
The debut comes as Toyota and other Japanese automakers try to address a surge in accidents among elderly drivers in Japan, which is experiencing a rapidly aging population.
The number of fatal accidents involving drivers 75 or older in Japan doubled from 381 in 2007 to 791 in 2019, Toyota said. Mistaking the accelerator for the brake is a leading cause.
"We thought something needed to be done," Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota fellow for advanced r&d and engineering, said on Monday. "We believe this will have a big impact."
Toyota's countermeasure uses software to suppress acceleration when the onboard computer deems it likely the result of a misapplied pedal. It works in a range of 0-30 kph (0-19 mph).
The technology, which Toyota calls an acceleration suppression function, uses the existing hardware of the brand's Toyota Safety Sense system and relies on new software to judge when drivers hit the gas instead of the brake. This helps cap costs for the new technology.
The system leverages big data collected through the data communication modules installed in newer Toyota vehicles. The so-called DCM relays information to a central server about a vehicle's operation, such as the acceleration position, braking and turn signal use. Toyota then used it to calculate an algorithm that helps guard against unintended acceleration.
Toyota has installed DCMs in 1.8 million vehicles on Japanese roads since 2002.
Acceleration suppression augments a suite of other Toyota Safety Sense technologies that include pre-crash emergency braking, automatic high beam dimming, lane departure warning, lane tracing assistance, road sign recognition and dynamic radar cruise control.