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AISIN develops car-mounted radar system to save toddlers left in automobiles

Leading Japanese auto parts maker Aisin has developed a car-mounted radar system that triggers an alarm if it detects that a toddler has been left inside the automobile. Aisin has focused on radar technology as a key element of its CPD system. Radio waves pass through objects and sense a person beyond them with high precision, even if his or her movement is minute. The system adopts a radar (from Vayyar) that has many transmitting and receiving antennas, with as many as 16 transmitting and 19 receiving channels. Compared with commonly used conventional radars with only three to four channels, this radar enables a significantly higher resolution for detecting a target.

To build the system, Aisin worked with an Israeli start-up that has expertise in high-precision radio wave technology. The radar unit, installed on automobiles’ ceilings, can differentiate between adults, children and animals based on their sizes. It can also identify subtle movements, such as the heaving of children’s chests when they breathe. When the system detects children alone in the car, it flashes the headlights and sounds the horn as a warning to the absent-minded driver.

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Aisin is now collecting feedback from leading automakers for their opinions and moving toward the final phase to mass-producing the device. Development of the system started in 2018, when U.S. was planning to make such child-detection equipment mandatory for vehicles by the mid-2020s. Few European countries also wants the inclusion of detection systems among the safety features of newly marketed vehicles. Aisin hopes to prevent children from dying of heatstroke while trapped inside cars during sweltering temperatures.

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A U.S. survey covering the 30 years to 2021 showed that an average of 40 children a year died after being left inside vehicles. In more than half of the cases, the drivers did not notice that the children remained in the automobiles. According to the survey, a cumulative total of 1,018 children died because of being left behind in vehicles from 1990 to 2021, and over the last five years, as many as 40 children died every year in this way on average. Aisin an affiliate of Toyota, plans to make the device commercially available around 2025.