Skip to main content

New Toyota tech will automatically shut off engines, apply parking brakes

2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

Many safety features focus on protecting people when a car is on the move, but Toyota is deploying tech for when cars are stationary. The Japanese automaker will launch features that automatically shut off engines and apply parking brakes on 2020 model-year vehicles. These simple additions could make a big difference in safety.

Toyota’s Automatic Engine Shut-off feature will turn off an engine after a certain period of time if the driver doesn’t respond to audio or visual warnings. Currently, Toyota vehicles are only capable of warning the driver that a car has been left running. Toyota also plans to add smartphone app notifications at a later date. The ability to automatically shut off the engine could be a useful feature in Toyota’s many hybrids, which often switch to electric power when the car is stationary. The lack of engine noise can cause drivers to forget the car is running. If the gasoline engine switches back on to recharge the battery pack in an enclosed environment, such as a garage, it could lead to asphyxiation.

Toyota’s second new safety feature is Automatic Park. Despite the name, it doesn’t automatically steer a car into a parking space. Once the car is stationary, it will automatically shift the vehicle into park and apply the parking brake, in the event the driver gets out of the car without doing so. As with Automatic Engine Shut Off, Automatic Park is a feature largely necessitated by changes in technology.

Automatic Park was designed for cars with electronic shifters, which don’t provide any mechanical feedback to indicate which position they are in. Eliminating the physical shifter mechanism frees up space on the center console, but the lack of tactile feedback can also confuse drivers. A car accidentally left in drive, neutral, or reverse, rather than park, can accidentally rollaway. Circumstances like this were blamed for the 2016 death of actor Anton Yelchin.

The two new safety features will roll out on Toyota vehicles for the 2020 model year, and will likely be added to models from the automaker’s Lexus luxury brand as well. Toyota did not say if the features will be standard across the board, but it has been fairly aggressive in adding safety features and driver aids as standard equipment. Even the humble Toyota Corolla gets standard adaptive cruise control, putting some more expensive cars to shame.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
2020 Toyota 4Runner goes off road with more safety and tech features
2020 toyota 4runner photos specs and pricing



Read more
Someone is already flipping a new 2020 Toyota Supra on Bring a Trailer
2020 toyota gr supra launch edition on bring a trailer

The 2020 Toyota GR Supra is one of the most anticipated new cars of the year, which inevitably has some people seeing dollar signs. One of the sports cars has already shown up on the popular auction site Bring a Trailer. It's a brand-new car with just 23 miles on the odometer, according to the ad. It was originally sold through West Herr Toyota in Orchard Park, New York, but the current seller is located in Georgia, and is offering the Supra with a Georgia title.

The car in question is number 996 of 1,500 Launch Edition models sold in the United States, according to the ad. These cars feature extras like model-specific 19-inch wheels, carbon fiber trim, and a plaque with the serial number. This particular Supra also has carbon fiber mirror caps and the optional Driver Assist Package, which adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors, according to the ad.

Read more
Toyota shows off mascot robots and tiny autonomous car for Tokyo Olympics
toyota shows off mascot robots and tiny autonomous car for tokyo olympics  2020

Japan is keen to use next year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to showcase its cutting-edge technology, with Toyota, for one, readying a range of robots that it hopes will impress international visitors as well as the event's global audience.

The company this week pulled the wraps off the latest designs of seven robots for a range of roles that include entertainment and assistance for athletes and sports fans during the month-long sporting extravaganza.
Robot helpers
They include the Human Support Robot (HSR) and the Delivery Support Robot (DSR), versions of which we first saw a few months back. Working together, HSR features a robotic arm and hand that can reach up high to grab objects, or pick up items located on the ground. The wheel-based, meter-high robot can also act as a guide, showing spectators the way to a sports venue's entrances and exits, or to facilities inside the arena.

Read more