Toyota Heads List Of IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ Awards

IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ Early on, Toyota vehicles developed a reputation for being great in a lot of different ways. They were highly efficient, good-looking and extremely reliable. In particular, Toyota vehicles were safe. And they still are. That’s clearly evidenced in the results from the latest round of testing by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.

Of all of the automakers whose vehicles were tested, Toyota won more of the top awards than other. In total, nine Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles received the IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award.

To win this award, the IIHS tests vehicles for what they call crashworthiness, which they define as “how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash.” They also test a vehicle’s aptitude in crash avoidance and mitigation, the “technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity.”

They winning vehicles were: Toyota Prius v, Toyota Camry, Toyota Avalon, Toyota RAV4, Lexus CT 200h, Lexus ES, Lexus RC, Lexus NX, and Scion iA.

Tips On How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

how to keep your new year’s resolutionsThere is only one New Year’s resolution that is guaranteed to work: the resolution not to make any resolutions! But that’s no fun and self-improvement is important, so here are some tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions…

Tie Them Together

Let’s say you have a resolution to quit smoking, eat better and get in shape. Aren’t those all the same goal, really? According to an article from Oprah.com, combining behavioral changes into a common goal makes you more likely to succeed!

Record Everything

It’s been shown that people are more likely to succeed when they have a record of their progress. When you do well, seeing that on paper can be extremely encouraging. Of course, in our modern times, there are lots of apps that can help you. There are apps that can help recognize the positive health changes that come from quitting smoking or your progress in the gym.

Be Careful How You Talk To Yourself

A good rule of thumb to follow is to talk to yourself the same way you would someone you love and care about. Be encouraging. Give yourself little pep talks if you have to. Remember, you don’t need to change who you are, just what you do (or don’t do).  

What Are Anti-Lock Brakes?

what are anti-lock brakesIf you’ve bought a car in the last decade, odds are it has an anti-lock braking system, or ABS. When ABS was invented and it became clear it was much safer than former braking systems, ABS quickly became the industry standard. So what are anti-lock brakes?

Anti-lock brakes are so much safer than other braking systems because they don’t lock up, which leads into skids, especially on wet roads. The ABS technology monitors the wheels to keep them from locking, responding to sudden braking and changes in speed by releasing braking pressure on the wheel that’s about to lock up.

With the reduced risk of skidding, you have much more steering control over your vehicle, so you can steer out of the way of obstacles or use your wheel to regain control of the vehicle if you’re sliding. Before ABS, steering while braking wasn’t nearly as effective, and crash rates in skid situations were much worse.

So, this holiday season, say a thank you to Gabriel Voisin, the inventor of anti-lock brakes!

New Toyota Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Company Opening in January 2016

Toyota artificial intelligence researchToyota Research Institute, the new billion-dollar Toyota artificial intelligence research and development company, is set to begin operations in January 2016. Two facilities will open, one the headquarters near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and the other located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The goal of TRI is to “accelerate [research and development] in a range of fields to help resolve society’s future challenges by using artificial intelligence and big data,” according to Toyota. The company has a firm belief in the power of artificial intelligence to revolutionize the future of technology and wants to use TRI to turn research into product development.

TRI’s immediate aims focus on vehicle safety and accessibility. First and foremost, Toyota hopes TRI will allow development of technologies that decrease the likelihood of car crashes, and then make driving a reality for the disabled and supporting seniors and others with mobility issues by transforming Toyota car technology into tech that can be used in the home.

Safety Features: Driver Assist Technology

driver assist technologyDriver assist features have become increasingly common in new cars over the last several years thanks to advancements in safety technology. There are many different types of driver assist technology, including blind spot assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and active cruise control.

Warnings tell you when something dangerous is about to happen, while assist takes control of your car to keep it from happening. Most of these features use sensing technologies to stop collisions from occurring.

With blind spot assistance or warning, sensors installed in a car’s side view mirror can tell when another car is in your blond spot on either side, making it safer to switch lanes, or even forces you back into your lane. Lane departure warning is similar, using cameras instead of sensors on the mirrors to watch the road and make sure your car doesn’t drift over the lines.

Forward collision warnings use cameras or radar sensors to keep an eye on the distance between you and the car ahead of you and can activate your brakes. Active cruise control, rather than staying at the same speed all the time, slows down when you get close to other cars, also using sensors.

Toyota Automated Test Drive Vehicle

Toyota automated test drive vehicleAlways innovating in the field of safety technology, Toyota recently announced that it could be bringing totally autonomous driving to the road as early as 2020. Using a new Toyota automated test drive vehicle it calls Highway Teammate, Toyota is making strides in areas no other auto manufacturer has even begun to dip their toes in yet.

According to Toyota, the push for automated driving is not just out of concern for safety but because the company wants to explore and eventually evolve the relationship between driver and car into something like a close friendship. Highway Teammate, which is a modified Lexus GS, has already been road tested in Japan and put through a series of maneuvering tests to determine its ability to merge and change lanes.

Highway Teammate uses a combination of highly accurate road mapping to pinpoint its own location and external sensors which recognize other vehicles and potential hazards. Highway Teammate uses this information to decide if, when, and how to switch lanes or otherwise avoid the risk.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this testing could completely change the world of driving in the next several years. Keep an eye on Highway Teammate!

How Do Hybrids Work?

how do hybrids workToyota was the first manufacturer to bring hybrid cars to the market and remains the biggest innovator in hybrid technology today, with its mega-popular Prius line and several other hybrid options. But exactly how do hybrids work?

Hybrids use a combination of electric motor power and gasoline to drastically improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions. There are a couple different kinds of hybrids, including hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, which use the electricity and gasoline in different ways.

Regular hybrids use their extra electric parts to gather and reuse energy that would otherwise be wasted. Regenerative braking, for instance, collects the kinetic energy produced when braking and feeds it back into the engine, which is why hybrid cars generally have better gas mileage in the city than on the freeway.

Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, are much closer to electric vehicles, as they can go a certain range on electric power alone. In PHEVs, the gasoline engine, which in normal hybrids runs the vehicle all the time, acts as a sort of backup generator when the electric power runs out. Many drivers find that on their normal commute they never need to use their gasoline.

Winning Video Selected for Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge

TeenDrive365 Video ChallengeSometimes messages are most effective when spoken, or illustrated, by peers. Toyota and Discovery Education chose to use this approach in order to inspire teen drivers to curb the distractions while driving. The TeenDrive365 Video Challenge charged high school students with creating a public service announcement (PSA) to pass along the message. Elijah Wilborn was chosen as the first place winner.

Wilborn, a high school student from Chicago, was awarded $15,000 and the opportunity to re-produce his PSA with the help of professionals from Discovery Education. When the video is complete, it will be adopted into Discovery Education’s resources used around the country.

Wilborn’s video features a teen on an ordinary morning and offers a humorous approach to the need to kick driving distractions to the curb.

“We loved how Elijah’s PSA addressed driving safety with creativity, humor and a clear-eyed view of the distractions that face drivers of all ages,” said Michael Rouse, President of the Toyota USA Foundation. “We offer him our heartfelt congratulations and are proud to help share his vision for encouraging other teens to drive more safely.”

Videos from the top 10 finalists are available for viewing online.

Toyota’s Revelation Could Lead to Improved Fuel Cell Technology

Fuel cell technologyWe at Cumberland Toyota admit that the science behind fuel cell technology is complex and the details go a bit over our heads. However, when we read words like “breakthrough” and “improving… performance” and “more efficient and durable,” then we fully understand. As a matter of fact, those are quotes taken from a recent press release in which Toyota discussed a new observation technique discovered that has the potential to improve the efficiency and durability of fuel cell stacks used in hydrogen-powered vehicles like the Toyota Mirai.

Now, we won’t go into all the details, but the gist of the announcement is that Toyota Motor Company and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) together discovered a new way of observing nanometer-sized platinum particles. We imagine this is as interesting to them as watching a favorite movie would be to us.

By observing these particles during chemical reactions, researchers are able to better determine when the platinum particles, which are used as a catalyst in hydrogen fuel technology, begin to decrease in effectiveness.

The ability to observe this process could enable researchers to ultimately come up with a solution that will make hydrogen fuel stacks more efficient and long-lasting.

If you want the full run-down of the scientific processes Toyota’s researchers are studying, feel free to check out the official press release.

Road Trip Tips: Essentials for Travelling By Car

Road Trip TipsThere are two types of people: those who like road trips, and those who can’t stand driving. If you’re the former of the two, then you probably can’t wait for warm weather and that cool summer breeze. That’s why we’ve put together a list of road trip tips to help you get the most out of your long-distance driving.

According to the Travel Channel, one of the most important things you can do is prep your car for the journey. That means getting it serviced, finding a cell phone that works nearly anywhere, and checking your spare tire. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than having to call a tow truck or getting stranded.

Calculating fuel is also important when going on a trip. Although fuel economy varies depending on your driving habits, an accurate measurement can be made by filling your car, resetting the odometer, and marking the gallons you used when you refuel. By dividing the miles by the fuel consumption, you get an accurate readout.  By doing this several times and then taking the average number, you’ll pinpoint close to your actual fuel mileage.

If you’re taking kids on the trip with you, make sure to bring things to keep them entertained. While you might just like cruising on the highway, nothing is worse than hearing the dreaded, “I’m bored!” Bring games, music, and snacks to keep everyone happy.

With these tips in mind, you’re bound to have a good time.