Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Future Pedals: 2 in 1 Brake and Accelerator Pedal

A Single Pedal for Both Braking and Acceleration; could this mean no more heel and toe technique?

Due to the Toyota's recent accelerator pedal problems, Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse has invented a pedal that can do both the braking and accelerating function in 1 pedal. 

    Even though the invention has been around for 20 years,  is only getting the highlight after Toyota's pedal recalls. If put in production, it could change the way millions of people drive. Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse cited that the design of putting the accelerator and brake pedal side by side could actually be hazardous, as people may press the wrong pedal due to the close proximity.Naruse pedal, a unified pedal design that puts accelerator and brake on the same foot-activated lever.

"Naruse's pedal places the accelerator control on the side of a larger brake pedal where the foot can nudge it to the right to increase acceleration. Downward pressure on the pedal results in only one singular action: stopping. This, Naruse says, will prevent the many thousands of accidents each year caused by drivers stomping on the wrong pedal, accelerating into peril when they are trying to brake.

In light of the recent spate of accelerator-related recalls, either because the accelerator gets stuck or gets hung up with the floor mat, has renewed some designers interest in Naruse's designs and others like it. Swedish regulators are testing a single-pedal scheme, and in Japan the Naruse pedal has been declared street legal on about 130 individual cars. Considering a Japanese research group determined that some 6,700 accidents -- including 37 deaths -- were caused in Japan last year by drivers mistakenly slamming on the gas, the idea might be gaining traction.
The obvious obstacle between between Naruse's idea and widespread adoption by automakers is the need for people the world over to have to relearn the muscle memory they've developed over a lifetime of two-pedal driving. That, and the clear detriment to Hollywood-style shift-and-stomp acceleration that gets all car lovers' pulses pounding. But from engineering and safety standpoints, a single-pedal design actually makes a lot of sense. See Naruse's pedal design in the NYT Business video below" (New York Times, 2010)