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Making sense of Toyota's "Safety Sense"

Monday, July 1, 2019 - 07:00
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The push toward autonomous vehicles is driving vehicle manufacturers to create and implement integrated technology packages that are aimed at assisting the driver. These safety packages are commonly referred to as Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems or ADAS. Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) and Lexus Safety System (LSS) are the proprietary names Toyota is using for their ADAS systems. While these systems are currently designed to support the driver, the foreshadowing towards autonomy is evident. The challenge for today’s repair and collision facilities in diagnosing, repairing and calibrating these vehicles will include the need for proper training, service information, scan tools and related tooling.

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(Image courtesy of Toyota Media) Toyota Safety Sense is Toyota’s advanced driving assist system.

The complication to this technology on Toyota and Lexus vehicles comes down to the differences in system buttonology and display technology found on each varying vehicle. It has been rumored that Toyota and Lexus are on their fifth generation of this technology adding to the complexity of diagnosis and repair. For example, Toyota Safety Sense has gone under the name TSS-C, TSS-P and the Current TSS 2.0. These formal TSS classifications come after years of utilization of millimeter wave radar systems found on Lexus vehicles and Toyota nameplates such as Sequoia and Prius.

The push toward autonomy

While most manufacturers are forging toward a driverless future, most are still sure to tell their customers that this is an assist feature and not a replacement for the vehicle’s driver. The Society of Automotive Engineers recently published a chart that outlies the six classification from fully driver operated vehicles to fully autonomous vehicles. Level “0” representing the former while level “5” the latter. Most manufacturers, including Toyota find themselves in the level 1-2 range with still quite a few complications and hurdles to overcome before moving up in level.

(Image courtesy of Toyota Media) Toyota’s TSS-C and TSS-P were the predecessors to TSS 2.0.

A look at the current Toyota Safety System reveals the current level of technology as well as some of the obstacles to full autonomy.

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
The pre-collision system with pedestrian detection utilizes a forward facing, windshield mounted camera as well as a millimeter wave radar sensor typically mounted in the Toyota or Lexus emblem in the vehicles grille. This technology is designed to detect hazards and / or pedestrians between speeds of 7-110 mph for the pre-collision and 7-55 mph for pedestrian detection and will alert the driver to hazards both audibly and visually with a series of beeps and a flashing warning to brake. If the driver brakes in response to this warning the system will often provide additional brake force to bring the vehicle to a stop more quickly. If the driver does not brake at all, the system may apply the brakes for the driver automatically.

(Image courtesy of Toyota Media) Toyota’s TSS 2.0 features upgrades such as pedestrian detection

While the idea of this system is very well intended, Toyota specifically points out that there are multiple scenarios in which this technology is unreliable. Specifically, the system relies on straight roadways, and clear visibility. If visibility is poor such as in bad weather, the system may be unreliable. Additionally, the sudden appearance of a vehicle or other object, uneven roadways or sharp curves, something on the sensor, strong sunlight or the ability to see motorcycles or bicycles all provide complications to system reliability.

Toyota is sure to issue the disclaimer – that drivers are responsible for operating their own vehicles.

(Image courtesy of Toyota Media) Pre-collision systems detect closing targets, provide warning and ultimately brake.

Land Departure Alert
Tired or distracted driving that causes a driver to swerve out of their lane is mitigated through the use of lane departure alert. LDA typically activates when the system observes the driver veering out of a visibly marked lane. This system utilizes a forward-facing camera to detect the lines on the road. Above a speed of 32mph with the system enabled and on a reasonably straight road, the system will provide an audible and visual warning to the driver. Some vehicles are also equipped with steering assist that will provide slight adjustments in an attempt to keep the vehicle in the lane. Many of these functions are adjustable and, in some cases, can be turned off entirely.

This system, as will its pre-collision relative, is highly dependent on the windshield mounted camera. It works best on straight roads and when lane markers are clearly visible.

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