The new system incorporates millimetre-wave radar to sense unavoidable collisions with other traffic and obstacles and triggers seatbelt retractors and brake assist before impact. It is part of Toyota's wider programme of Intelligent Transport Systems research and development.
The company says that some of this pre-crash technology will appear in production models during 2003. No date has been given for any introduction to models destined for the UK market.
Analysis of around 9000 annual traffic-related fatalities in Japan revealed that, if pre-crash safety measures had been engaged, one per cent of victims might have survived.