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Toyota teams with universities for research on safety issues

Toyota Motor Corp. is teaming up with several United States Universities in order to conduct research projects on safety issues facing the auto industry. The collaboration between Toyota and universities will signify a great modification in the way Toyota conducts research.
Posted: September 14, 2011 - 5:01PM
Author: KC Kelly

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The basic series of research projects by Toyota and the educational institutions will help in the better understanding of many key safety matters for drivers and pedestrians. The studies will help find ways to reduce driver distractions, how to cut teen accidents and how to better protect pedestrians, children and the elderly in crashes.

Tina Brunetti Sayer, an engineer at Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center stated, “Twelve teens die each day in accidents. That's 5,000 a year. This is a group that really needs help in learning to drive.” This was reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The North American Universities that will be involved in the Toyota safety issue research projects will be the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Wake Forest University. The projects will cost approximately $50 million and span over a five year period of time.

Collaborating with universities is a different approach at researching for Toyota Motor Corp. In the past, most of the company's research had been exclusively branded, but now, the new studies will be published and made available to any other auto makers who are interested. This news was made official by Toyota officials at a news conference at the company's technical center.

The catalyst to this change in Toyota’s mode of research was caused by when the company suffered major safety issues in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal. Many may remember when the poorly designed floor mats in some of the Toyota models were found to cause some of cars to speed up on their own by pinning down the vehicles' gas pedals.

The Toyota Company faced major media scrutiny at the time. It was fined by U.S. regulators and its president, Akio Toyoda apologized in an appearance before Congress. Moritake Yoshida, an engineer who has worked at Toyota for 30 years stated, “Safety is at the very basis of vehicle manufacturing. I want to communicate that throughout the organization. My role is to accelerate the development of safety technology."

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