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Toyota Launches New Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor

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(credit: istock) Technology Report
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Toyota announced Sunday that it is launching a new, advanced safety research center that will collaborate with leading North American universities, hospitals, research institutions, federal agencies and other organizations on projects aimed at reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on America’s roads. 

Toyota’s new Collaborative Safety Research Center will be based at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor and will involve Toyota researchers and engineers from North America and Japan. The company estimates that it will commit approximately $50 million over the next five years to fund CSRC.

The collaborative research will pursue integrated ways to enhance safety, involving the vehicle, driver and traffic environment.  Initial areas of focus will include reducing the risk of driver distraction – a growing cause of accidents – and protecting the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens and seniors.  These populations account for approximately 30 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities. 

In addition, CSRC will conduct in-depth analyses of available accident and human behavior data to support stakeholders’ efforts to evaluate and speed deployment of active safety systems. 

Chuck Gulash, a senior executive engineer at the Toyota Technical Center, will serve as director of CSRC.  He will report to Shigeki Terashi, who is a managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp. and the president of TTC.

The University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute will be charter partners in the new center. Toyota will also reach out broadly to other universities, hospitals and research institutions in North America to invite proposals for research into advanced automotive safety. 

Toyota is supporting the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute on a multidisciplinary project to assess the potential benefits of advanced safety systems in a systematic way, combining their expertise in driver behavior, crash data analysis and driver modeling.

Toyota’s collaboration with Virginia Tech involves research into the effectiveness of an electronic coaching and monitoring system for newly licensed teenage drivers to help reduce unsafe driving behaviors. Toyota will have an active role in guiding this “Driver Coach” project alongside partners including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. 

Toyota will join The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in a pilot study to create America’s first publicly available national crash surveillance system focused on child vehicle occupants. Such a system will be used to monitor trends in child passenger safety, assess the performance of new safety technologies for children and serve as a national resource to assist researchers, industry and policy-makers to set the agenda for child passenger safety in the U.S.

Toyota Technical is responsible for engineering design, vehicle development, safety and performance evaluation, regulatory affairs and advanced technical research for Toyota and Lexus vehicles manufactured or sold in North America.

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