New device to prevent hot car fatalities detects heartbeats and breathes in the back of Toyota and Lexus vehicles


PLANO, TX – A dozen Toyota engineers have worked over the past 2.5 years to try to save another child from dying after being left in a hot car.

The National Safety Council reports that an average of 38 children die each year in the United States due to this exact scenario. Correcting this sad statistic is the top priority of this group of engineers.

“It became a mission rather than just a job,” said Simon Roberts.

The new technology is called Cabin Awareness. It’s designed to save lives and prevent deaths from heat stroke inside cars, not only babies left in car seats, but also pets left behind or that have entered from a somehow without the knowledge of the car owner.

Cabin Aware, unlike some other systems available, does not use video cameras to monitor the back seat or scale to see if there is anything heavy left in the seat. Instead, the system detects micro-movements, such as heartbeats or breathing.

“So we’re able to distinguish between a bag of groceries and a human whereas a weight sensor can’t,” Roberts said.

When Cabin Awareness realizes there’s something alive left in the car, it triggers a few alerts. First, your car’s horn and turn signals go off. Then, if that doesn’t catch your attention, you’ll receive a call or text from the system.

The system isn’t officially ready to roll out to the public yet, but the engineers who designed the system said they expect it to be available in all cars very soon.

“Obviously we are developing this for Toyota and Lexus, but this is potentially what we call our Volvo moment. Where, they invented the three-point safety harness, the seat belt we all have today in every vehicle. It’s something that came out of the Hackathon as part of a movement for social good and innovation that we’d like to see embraced everywhere,” Roberts said.

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