The nerdy engineers over at Bosch have come up with a gas pedal that provides tactile feedback to help improve your driving habits. Not only does it aim to increase your fuel economy, but it also wants to keep you out of crashes. It’s a clever little nanny.

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We’ve seen “green” gas pedals before. Back in 2008, Nissan showed the world its “Eco Pedal,” which pushed back against a driver’s foot when they accelerated too quickly. The goal of that pedal was to help drivers improve their driving habits and achieve better fuel economy.

This new “active gas pedal” from Bosch does all that, but adds another level of sophistication to what used to be just a hinged slab of metal connected to a throttle cable.

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Bosch’s pedal communicates with the car’s powertrain, navigation system and driver assist features, as well as other vehicles and connected infrastructure. Using these inputs, the pedal can help a driver avoid accidents and improve fuel efficiency.

Improved Fuel Economy

We’ve already talked about why your measured fuel economy doesn’t always match up with what’s on the EPA label, and one of the primary factors is driving style. If you’re scoring five MPGs below the label, there’s a good chance you’ve got a bit of a lead foot.

This new active gas pedal is meant to help teach you how to keep that gas pedal off the floorboard. The fancy gas pedal vibrates, knocks or applies counterpressure when the driver is applying throttle too aggressively. In time, the pedal is meant to teach drivers good, efficient habits behind the wheel.

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In addition, Bosch says the smart pedal can provide haptic feedback to help drivers decide when to shift their manual transmissions.

When used in hybrid vehicles, it can provide feedback to the driver when the car shifts from electric drive to the internal combustion engine. That way, the driver can adjust his or her driving style to minimize use of the combustion engine.

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Bosch says their smart pedal “tells the driver when the economy and acceleration curves intersect,” and that it can decrease fuel consumption by up to 7 percent.

Accident Avoidance

But Bosch’s active pedal isn’t just about fuel economy, it’s about improving driving safety. Communicating with the navigation system, the pedal is capable of providing feedback via vibration, knocking or counterpressure to warn drivers to slow down for an oncoming sharp turn. Used in conjunction with a camera that reeds speed limit signs, the pedal can also notify the driver that they’re exceeding the speed limit.

Because the pedal is connected to a slew of driver’s assist systems (like those that can read traffic signs), and because it is capable of communicating with other vehicles and with infrastructure, Bosch’s genius pedal can go a step further at keeping drivers out of sticky situations, as Bosch elaborates:

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Internet connectivity opens up even more possibilities. The Bosch innovation is already designed for cars that are connected with their surroundings. And via the vibrating pedal, the connected car will pass on warnings about dangerous situations – wrong-way drivers, unexpected congestion, crossing traffic, and other hazards along the planned route – to the person at the wheel.

Bosch’s pedal introduces a new way to communicate to drivers the dangers on the roads. Many new cars can already warn drivers that they’re exceeding the speed limit, or that there’s an accident ahead, but with the active pedal, Bosch says it’s offering “a signal precisely where [drivers] can respond intuitively — at their feet.”

This could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road, while still communicating helpful information. Hopefully.

Photos: Bosch