New features on 2016 Prius help make car smarter, safer

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The number one best-selling car in California just got a little bit smarter, with safety features like detecting when pedestrians are close to avoid an accident. (KGO-TV)

The number one best-selling car in California, the 2016 Prius, just got a little bit smarter.

Starting a car with a button was revolutionary enough.

Now on the car's fourth major release, there are some new features that are hidden beneath the new sporty exterior.

The whole car is covered with sensors hidden in crevices behind fiberglass, and the Toyota emblem where there is a radar for dynamic cruise control, which can monitor the vehicle that's in front of you.

The car automatically keeps pace with traffic, stays a safe distance behind other cars -- all part of a package called Toyota Safety Sense.

When the car's cameras detect you're drifting out of your lane, the steering wheel will automatically nudge you back in.

There are warnings when a car's in your blind spot or if you're about to back into something and the car can even detect pedestrians. "Someone could walk out in front of your car, this is going to alert you and stop the vehicle so you avoid hitting somebody," Toyota Bay Area Asst. General Manager Briana Nelson said.

The new safety features are part of a larger vision for Toyota. They're puzzle pieces that will eventually form a car that can drive itself if you want it to.

It's been just a few months since Toyota announced a robotics partnership with Stanford and MIT.

After all, Google's first self-driving car was a Prius and the computer vision used in Toyota's new safety systems is similar to what cars will need to start driving themselves.

The new Prius even knows traffic conditions and displays the speed limit right on the windshield.
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