A week before the opening of the Tokyo Motor Show, which will showcase a lot of autonomous drive and near-autonomous drive technology, two days after the Japanese government held a high-profile event where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was driven around in (not quite) driverless cars, the industry must navigate around a PR-disaster: A demonstration of Mazda’s accident-prevention system ended in an accident and two people in the hospital.
On Sunday, November 10, an employee of a Mazda dealer in Fukaya City, Saitama, Japan, demonstrated Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) system to a customer. During the demonstration, an SCBS-equipped Mazda CX-5 collided with a fence. The customer suffered whiplash, the employee of the dealership broke his arm.
Smart City Brake Support uses a near-infrared laser to detect the vehicle in front and supports braking depending on the drivers actions. According to Mazda, “a number of factors can stop the system from operating as expected.” Dealerships are instructed to give safety feature demonstration test drives “only under a strict set of conditions.”
Mazda has “decided to voluntarily suspend all such test drives until the cause of the accident has been established and countermeasures have been taken.”