PLANO, Texas — Consumers write to automaker CEOs all the time offering advice, making product suggestions, lodging complaints or offering compliments.
But one 2018 email to then-Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz before he retired was the motivation behind a new technology that has the potential to save lives.
The email came after the tragic death of a child in a hot car and requested Lentz do something to make sure such a tragedy wouldn't befall another family. And it has now resulted in a concept system that automatically detects and protects passengers and pets who might have been inadvertently left in a vehicle, or have sneaked into one.
The system, Cabin Awareness, uses inward-facing, millimeter-wave, high-resolution imaging radar to detect the micromovements of most life forms — humans and most pets — and provides a series of increasingly active warnings if the driver has left the vehicle. It also has the ability to open the windows and turn on the vehicle heating or cooling system if it senses that the unattended occupant could be in danger.