Yes, you read that headline correctly – a new patent filed by Toyota describes a theft-deterring interior fragrance system that can not only pleasantly scent the car as you’d expect, but will emit tear gas when it senses the car has been stolen.
The patent application for what has been rather innocently dubbed the ‘Vehicle Fragrance Dispenser’ has three key functions – one, to add fragrance to the cabin in the traditional sense of these systems to “improve the mood of occupants”; two, to deodorise and remove any unpleasant odours; and three, to dispense tear gas as a deterrent to would-be car thieves.
Proving that it’s far more high-tech than one of those colourful trees hung from the rear-view mirror, and even more complex than the types of fragrance systems on offer from the likes of BMW and Mercedes, the patent diagram shows that the system is comprised of a fragrance controller, fragrance generator, and a transceiver device, while also highlighting that the system is tied in with the car’s immobiliser.
The way the vehicle will know what perfume to dispense when someone gets into the car is controlled by the transceiver, which will talk with the mobile phones of any registered drivers to that vehicle, meaning that you could have it set so that one fragrance is dispensed every time you get into the car, while your partner (or whoever else) can choose have a different scent emitted automatically.
However, if the system detects what it determines to be an “illegitimate engine start”, such as in the event of an attempted theft, the system will release tear gas inside the vehicle to temporarily blind whoever’s trying to nick your pride and joy, with the aim of foiling their getaway.
Currently, the system isn’t planned to be used in any production models, although it’s interesting nonetheless to see how Toyota is taking a proactive approach towards looking into ways of preventing car thefts. We can only hope that an ejection seat may be on the cards next…