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Toyota developing senior-friendly cars

by Drew Johnson

Toyota has teamed with the creator of Nintendo's "Brain Age" -- Professor Ryuta Kawashima -- to develop technology to make its cars safer for seniors. Kawashima's "Brain Age" is designed to stimulate and train the brain, something Toyota hopes to incorporate into its vehicles.

"We envision future cars will be able to monitor brain and emotional activity to back up elderly drivers," Kawashima told the International Herald Tribune.

Some of the technology being developed includes systems that can determine driving patterns and even stop potentially dangerous activities. One such system is being designed to slow the car if it detects that the gas pedal was pressed accidentally.

Other developments include navigation and climate control systems that can help keep the driver awake and alert. "Ultimately, we hope to develop cars that stimulate brain activity, so that driving itself becomes a form of brain training," Kawashima said.

Toyota officials are currently attending Kawashima's "Mobility and Smart Aging" study group, which discusses elderly friendly cars.

Further details are being kept quite until the project is in full swing, but the technology could be available in Toyota cars in as little as five years.