Jan. 26, 2016

Toyota Turns Safety Technology into Sumo Techniques


Most communities aren't quite accustomed to the sight of sumo wrestlers in training, and certainly not in the public domain. However, one might assume that after decades of living in close proximity to Hollywood, the residents of Los Angeles have learned to expect just about anything. False. When Toyota set a bevy of sumo wrestlers loose in the city's streets, the spectacle proved just as curious to the locals of even this hub of fantasy and fiction.

The unusual display was related to the filming of a new ad, in which seven practitioners of this famous Japanese martial art demonstrate the workings of Toyota Safety Sense, a recently-launched package of active safety technologies. The ad, created for the Japanese market, draws unusual yet relatable parallels between the wrestlers negotiating the streets of L.A. and the corresponding features of Toyota Safety Sense. While the terms presented as techniques are not actually sumo lingo, the joke is that they should sound plausible even to an aficionado of the sport, as if they were real moves that have been mastered by these seven wrestlers.

Fun fact: Much of the video is comprised of genuine raw reactions from surprised L.A. citizens who gave their permission to be included in the video.

So let's take a look at the comparisons between these supposed sumo techniques and Toyota Safety Sense.

Stop Short
Sundomari: Stop Short

The ability to come to a safe but abrupt stop when faced with a collision is represented here through the emergence of a squad of peppy cheerleaders rounding the corner as our sumo train approaches. Using their unique sundomari technique, the wrestlers are able to come to a halt without crashing into the cheerleaders or even each other. This demonstrates the capability of not only one car equipped with Toyota's Pre-collision System to avoid hitting a sudden obstruction (like a pedestrian dashing into the road), but also the potential for a line of cars equipped with the system to stop safely in succession.

Pull Back
Hikimodoshi: Pull Back

While allowing oneself to become distracted on the road is never advised, our sumo wrestlers are lured off course by a billboard, but thankfully are able to use their hikimodoshi technique to automatically pull back into the center of their lane. The automotive equivalent is Toyota's Lane Departure Alert function, which warns the driver when they start approaching the lines on the side of their lane.

Oimawashi: Follow

Anyone who has participated in a conga line will know how hard it is to ensure that multiple people maintain a fixed distance between one another, especially while winding around corners and through doorways. Thanks to oimawashi, these seven sumo wrestlers are absolute pros at following their leader. In cars, this is all made possible by Toyota's Radar Cruise Control function, which senses and responds to the proximity and speed of preceding or following vehicles, as well as those merging to or from a lane.

(Unlike the other features demonstrated in the video, which are available with the base Toyota Safety Sense C package, Radar Cruise Control is only available as part of the higher-spec Toyota Safety Sense P package.)

Mitsukedashi: Detect

Even at night, our sumo wrestlers can continue their journey with the help of headlamps that are capable of detecting the light of oncoming lamps through the technique of mitsukedashi which leads to omoiyari. This means that their headlamps are then automatically lowered, so as not to blind those approaching in the opposite direction.

In cars, this is represented by the Automatic High Beam function of Toyota Safety Sense, which ensures that headlights will switch from high beams to low beams upon detection of oncoming headlights, allowing the driver to maintain focus on the road.

Since making its debut on the Corolla in Japan last April, Toyota Safety Sense has been gradually making its way around the world, and is available (depending on market) on numerous Toyota models including the Auris, Avensis, Prius, and RAV4. Just as these seven sumo wrestlers are dedicated to the perfection of their art, this safety package was developed to enable the eventual realization of Toyota's goal: reducing road accidents to zero. Of course, it doesn't stand out quite as visibly as a sumo train jogging through Los Angeles, but it is out there, and it is helping to make the automotive world a safer place.