By recreating the circumstances involving a three car vehicle crash involving one of their test cars, Toyota Research Institute has figured out a way in which the test car could have prevented the collision from occurring at all. The Institute has been working on something called the ” Toyota Guardian” as part of a secondary track to its autonomous driving development. The Guardian is a passive safety system that enhances human control of a vehicle and intervenes when necessary to avoid crashes. Over the last year, Toyota developed its concept by borrowing from fighter jets for its blended envelope control. Like the fighter jet’s fly by wire system which translates the pilot’s input into micro-adjustments necessary for flying, the blended envelope controls translates the driver’s intentions into the operations of the car. It is technology that Toyota will share with other automakers.

The Institute’s CEO, Gill Pratt said at a trade show that Toyota is thinking about what would be good for society. This trade show was known as the Consumer Electronics Show and has become a showcase for driverless cars. Pratt stated that they will offer it in some way to other companies through licensing or whole systems, and not keep the technology to themselves. To show how it would work at CES in Las Vegas. Pratt used the re-created the three-vehicle crash that happened in California. This vehicle traveled at freeway speeds in manual mode and its autonomous mode was disabled as it gathered data on the surrounding Bay Area in San Francisco. After downloading the data, the company asked itself if the crash could have been avoided with an automated safety system, and began work on the Toyota Guardian.

Toyota Research Institute built an accurate simulation from the data created on its test track for the car to figure out its options. Both car and Toyota discovered that in the accident, the best option was to accelerate safely away from the approaching vehicles. Humans have a need for autonomy, said Pratt in a written statement, one that is stronger than our desire for autonomous cars. Augmented driving systems, like that Toyota Guardian, are alternatives to a fully autonomous system, which allows people to experience the joy of driving with the benefits of safety technology.