Nissan Pathfinder reminds you to check the back seat

Rear Door Alert is brainchild of Nissan engineers who are also mothers

Published: August 2, 2017, 9:30 AM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:08 PM

2018 Nissan Pathfinder Rear Door Alert message

With summer in full swing and temperatures reaching unbearable levels, Nissan wants to ensure nobody gets left behind in a hot vehicle.

A couple Nissan engineers, who happen to also be mothers, helped create Rear Door Alert, a new system that reminds drivers to check the back seats of their vehicles after they park them. It debuts on the 2018 Pathfinder, before working its way through other models in the Nissan lineup.

The system, the brainchild of industrial engineer Elsa Foley (mother of two young children) and mechanical engineer Marlene Mendoza (mother of three). uses door sequence logic to identify whether the rear door has been opened after the vehicle is parked. It then alerts the driver to check the rear through an instrument cluster message and an audible reminder in the form of multiple horn chirps.

“Marlene discovered she had left a pan of lasagna in the back seat of her car one night after coming home after a long day at the office,” said Foley. “The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘what if that had been something else back there?’”

Rear Door Alert monitors the rear door switches to identify whether rear doors were opened prior to the trip and then again after. If it detects that a rear door was opened prior to setting off, but then was not re-opened following the parking of the vehicle and switching off the ignition, it will first alert the driver through a message in the instrument cluster and then cycle through a series of horn chirps, if no action is taken.

"The idea is if you open a rear door, whether to put a child or a package in the rear seat, the vehicle will help alert you when you get to your destination that you may want to check the rear seat," said Mendoza. "We've built in enough time that you don't have to rush, but if you don't open the rear door again when you get out of the vehicle, we want you to think for a moment about what you may have put in the back seat."

The system is configurable, with the driver able to temporarily or permanently disable it through the cluster display menus.

“There’s a culture of innovation along with the Nissan Intelligent Mobility mission that really encourages employees around the world to seek out new ideas every day,” said Mendoza. “We’re thankful that we were able use our perspectives as moms, and our backgrounds as engineers, to bring forward an idea that is now going into production – providing drivers with a reminder to check their back seats.”