By Stephen Markley on October 8, 2009
Unintended acceleration has a simple solution: A “smart” gas pedal that recognizes the brake takes precedence over acceleration. This means if they’re both depressed simultaneously the software forces the engine to respond to only to the brake and decelerate.
A few European automakers already have such a system in their vehicles. BMW made the feature standard in all of its vehicles beginning with the 2005 model year. It uses a drive-by-wire accelerator and BMW’s own software, but the feature only works when the vehicle is in motion in case tough guys want to rev the engine while holding down the brake.
For Toyota’s 3.8 million recalled vehicles, a smart gas pedal system is a potential fix. Toyota has said it won’t redesign the floor mats, and new software is an option.
Other automakers that use a smart pedal system include Audi, which had its own rash of unintended acceleration cases in the ’80s, and Volkswagen. Nissan will have a similar system for the 2010 Infiniti M, and Chrysler says most of its vehicles include the technology, as well.