Toyota has an idea that sounds like it came from James Bond's Q Branch. It would turn a seemingly harmless fragrance dispenser into something of an anti-theft device. A new patent from the Japanese automaker details a system that can spew tear gas at would-be carjackers.
Australian website WhichCar first discovered and reported on the patent Tuesday. Toyota filed the patent in August of 2018, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office published the documents last Thursday. According to the patent's description, the patent is actually for a fragrance system, a feature increasingly more common in luxury cars, that would dispense a driver's favorite scent before the driver enters the vehicle by detecting their smartphone. However, if the system were to detect "illegitimate engine starts," the fragrance system could quickly shoot tear gas into the cabin to stop a thief.
The system uses a transceiver to receive the driver's smartphone signal. At that point, it recognizes the driver and can then release a perfume scent associated with him or her before the driver enters to keep the cabin fresh.
Toyota patent for in-car fragrance system
The tear gas comes into play when someone attempts to start the car and the engine immobilizer is triggered. When a driver starts their car, a signal is sent to the immobilizer from the key to shut it off. If that signal is not received, the immobilizer springs into action. In this case, that would also trigger the tear gas to be be sprayed into the cabin.
Automakers file plenty of wild patents annually and it's no guarantee they're bound for production. We could imagine this one malfunctioning and spraying actual owners with tear gas. However, a version that simply adds a fragrance to the cabin based on recognizing the driver seems like it could be adopted. We'll have to wait and see if Toyotas soon feature some sort of gadgetry that doesn't seem out of place in a James Bond film.