Toyota has introduced an interesting concept called Cabin Awareness, which ensures that no human or pet is left behind in a car cabin that uses smart connection technology to detect movement and notify the owner using a millimeter-wave radar. The patent-pending technology was demonstrated in a Toyota Siena minivan and could be used in future production models, helping to prevent heatstroke deaths.
A single millimeter-wave, high-resolution 4D imaging radar derived from Weir Imaging can detect humans and certain pets inside the vehicle, even if they are asleep or hiding under a blanket. Radar mounted above the headliner can detect micro-movements in three rows, in the cargo area and in the footwall, such as heartbeat and respiration. Judging from the occupants’ size, posture, and position, the system classifies them as adults, children, or pets.
See also: Hyundai’s back door aims to reduce heat-related deaths by standardizing warning systems
Toyota says millimeter-wave radar is a better solution than other technologies such as weight sensors, cameras or limited-range radars, which can result in false alerts or misdiagnosis. In this regard, Simon Roberts, managing engineer at TCNA, said: “The key difference with this system is that it provides cabin awareness with improved resolution and accuracy, complete cabin detection and functionality opportunities.”
One great thing about the cabin awareness concept is that it is offering a variety of alerts and notifications. First, the instrument cluster has a warning signal, then the horn honks and the emergency light flashes. If the driver gets out of the car and does not respond, the system will automatically send a notification via the Toyota app and / or text message to their smartphone informing them that someone is still in the back seat.
If the driver does not always have a smartphone, cabin alerts can be programmed to notify emergency contacts such as other relatives or friends or to send alerts via smart home devices. If none of this works, there is an emergency response option via Toyota Safety Connect, which will notify first responders. Toyota engineers are so determined to save lives that they are exploring extra precautions using vehicle-to-vehicle communication and smart infrastructure.
The cabin awareness concept was developed by software engineers and data scientists working in Toyota-affiliated North America in Plano, Texas. The idea was born during a 36-hour Toyota Connected Hackathon with software designers and engineers, inspired by a microwave radar technology developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to assist in underground rescue after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
The cabin awareness concept is currently being tested in real-world testing by Toyota partner May Mobility on Toyota Sienna AutonoMaaS’s autonomous fleet. Public examinations will soon begin in An Arbor, Arlington, Texas, and Michigan, with more locations by the end of 2022.
Heatstroke deaths are a major problem in the United States, with 23 children dying in 2021 after being left in a car. Depending on the situation, cabin temperatures can rise to 125 ° Fahrenheit (51 ° C) within minutes, even if the outside temperature is as low as 60 ° Fahrenheit (15 ° C). Faster than adults.