Automotive R&D isn't just about hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles. Safety deserves top billing, too. That was the message put out by Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. as it unveiled on Dec. 10 its latest technology aimed at reducing car-related deaths and injuries, according to a Reuters report. In an innovation that could set a new standard for car safety, Japan's third-largest automaker said it had developed a way to make infrared sensors cheaply, allowing the technology to be used in vehicles. One application revealed to reporters at Nissan's research center was using an infrared sensor to warn the driver of the presence of a person behind the car to prevent accidents. The sensor can also be used to thwart car thefts by sounding an alarm when it detects body heat, or to automatically control air conditioning by gauging which passengers are too warm or too cold, Reuters reported. In another innovation, Nissan said it had developed a seatbelt that it estimates could reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in its cars by up to 25 percent. The system detects the possibility of a collision from the driver's operation of the brake pedal and tightens the seatbelt in advance, according to Reuters.