Mazda developed the i-ACTIVSENSE suite of advanced safety technologies with the aim of helping drivers recognize hazards, avoid collisions and reduce damage when accidents occur. The first model to feature the full range of i-ACTIVESENSE technologies is the new Atenza (Mazda6 overseas), which was launched in November 2012 and achieves outstanding safety performance.
Under the Mazda Proactive Safety philosophy of maximizing the range of conditions in which the driver can drive safely and comfortably, and minimizing the risk of accidents, Mazda thoroughly reviewed the basic configuration of its vehicles with the aim of optimizing the driving environment, improving both ease of operation and the driver's field of vision. The goal was to develop a vehicle in which the driver feels no discomfort and does not tire easily. An example of this is the layout of the steering wheel and pedals. These are positioned such that the driver's joints are maintained at the optimum angle for comfort which was calculated through analysis of the relaxed posture that an astronaut's body naturally assumes when floating in zero-gravity space.
Mazda also thoroughly analyzed accident scenes to find effective safety technologies. To successfully deploy such technologies globally, it is crucial to understand the traffic situations and driver characteristics of each country. The research and development team members drove night and day, in countries all over the world, to collect and analyze data for development.
These efforts resulted in the development of i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies using advanced detection devices.
The most unique feature of i-ACTIVSENSE is its hazard-recognition support technologies. These technologies warn the driver of approaching danger, but it is the driver him/herself that takes action to avoid the danger. The background of this feature lies the Mazda's principle of enhancing safety performance by encouraging the driver to take voluntary action without compromising driving pleasure, which is carefully reflected in design. For example, the Lane Departure Warning System is designed not to give a warning when the driver intentionally departs from a lane. Frequent, unnecessary warnings may annoy the driver, causing him/her to turn off the system. Naito explains the design intention: "A safety function cannot be effective if it is not used because it makes the driver feel annoyed."
Meanwhile, based on the notion that human beings are fallible, i-ACTIVSENSE includes technologies that will automatically intervene to avert collisions or mitigate damage when an accident is unavoidable. It is said that about 33% of car accidents that occur in Japan are rear-end collisions, of which about 60% occur at low speeds of 30 km/h or below. In recent years, the number of accidents caused by drivers mistakenly pressing the accelerator instead of the brake in automatic transmission vehicles has also been increasing. Mazda is seeking more effective safety technologies to avoid or mitigate damage from these common types of accidents.
Under the belief that widespread adoption will make the greatest contribution to society, Mazda has made efforts to be chosen by customers. "The key to widespread acceptance is to have customers experience and feel empathy for our technologies," says Naito. He himself attends the test-ride events held for the purpose of engendering understanding for Mazda's safety philosophy and reflecting customer feedback in subsequent developments. Naito asserts, "Our dream is the realization of a safe automotive society with no accidents. In pursuit of this ideal we will devote our efforts to the development of further practical safety technologies."