Toyota to conduct road tests of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that support safe driving

Drive Recorders to Be Used to Aid Development, Improve Traffic Environment

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that it plans to conduct public-road tests of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems under a Driving Safety Support Systems (DSSS) verification program organized by the Universal Traffic Management Society of Japan (UTMS Japan) *1. The tests, to take place from December*2 in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, are being promoted by the Japanese National Police Agency and are to be conducted with the cooperation of the agency, the Aichi Prefectural Police and Toyota City.

TMC is conducting the tests as part of its efforts to develop—in addition to autonomous onboard safety devices—vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that provide drivers traffic information by way of the roadside infrastructure and that are aimed at helping reduce traffic accidents through the use of the latest Intelligent Transport Systems technologies. Such cooperative systems enable collaboration not only between vehicles and the roadside infrastructure, but also among vehicles and between vehicles and pedestrians*3. This effort is in line with TMC's Integrated Safety Management Concept announced in August.

With an aim toward reducing the dangers associated with vehicle use and realizing vehicles that do not cause accidents, TMC hopes this effort will lead to the development of such systems as intervention-type, infrastructure-linked systems capable of not only providing information, but also warning drivers and slowing and/or stopping vehicles.

As a part of its efforts to realize sustainable mobility, TMC intends to strengthen its traffic safety initiatives in the future through the development of even safer vehicles and technologies, participation in the creation of a safe traffic environment and engagement in activities designed to educate people in traffic safety. By doing so, TMC intends to be able to contribute to the complete elimination of traffic casualties, which can be viewed as the ultimate hope of a society that values mobility.

*1 UTMS Japan is engaged in the study and research and development of universal traffic management systems, such as DSSS. Universal traffic management systems provide traffic information to drivers in real time using infrared beacons that conduct two-way communications with individual vehicles they also aim to achieve safe, comfortable and environmentally considerate mobility by actively managing traffic flows.

*2 UTMS Japan is scheduling a separate a test-drive demonstration from December 4 to 6 in Aichi Prefecture.

*3 Intelligent Transport Systems-based cooperative systems wirelessly receive information from communications infrastructure installed along the road and from other vehicles concerning, among others, traffic signs as well as objects that the driver cannot directly see. Such systems notify the driver of beyond-view traffic signs and/or objects to support safe driving and help prevent accidents. The New IT Reform Strategy announced in January 2006 by the Japanese government's IT Strategic Headquarters indicates polices such as conducting large-scale verification testing of DSSS on selected public roads by FY2008 through collaboration between the public and private sectors and deploying the systems throughout the country from the year starting April 2010, with a focus on sites where traffic accidents occur frequently.

Overview of TMC's Public-Road Tests

1. Test period/region and number of vehicles

Test period: December 4, 2006 to May 31, 2007 (approx. six months)

Test area: Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture

Number of vehicles: 100 vehicles equipped with drive recorders (50 of the 100 vehicles will have equipment to receive traffic control information from communications infrastructure)

2. Objectives of public-road tests

The tests, which will gather and analyze data on driver behavior under a variety of driving conditions, will be conducted to estimate the extent to which vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems can contribute to reducing traffic accidents. The focus will be on how the presence or absence of information on traffic signals (red lights) and stop signs transmitted by communications infrastructure affects the traffic-accident rates at intersections known to have a high rate of accidents. The results will be applied to the development of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems and to ongoing research aimed at improving traffic environments.

3. Features of effect analysis

The public-road tests featuring vehicles equipped with drive recorders that record the view in front of the vehicles and driver behavior will allow for the gathering of detailed real-world data on changes in driver behavior under various driving and traffic conditions. The data will be analyzed and estimates will be made of the accident-reduction effects of the systems in pursuit of safety under actual driving conditions. This will also contribute to the development of safety technologies and systems, based on TMC's Integrated Safety Management Concept, aimed at creating vehicles that do not cause accidents.

4. Methods for transmitting and receiving road information

Communications equipment using infrared beacons will be installed at five intersections in Toyota City that have high accident rates to transmit information concerning traffic signals (red lights) and stop signs. In the participating vehicles, the information will be received by a special on-board navigation system and provided to the driver via a display screen.

5. Data analysis and verification categories

1) Estimating traffic-accident-reduction effects of information provision Estimates will be made of the traffic-accident-reduction effects of providing intersection information to drivers by gathering and analyzing data on driver behavior (such as deceleration before reaching intersections), based on the presence or absence of information concerning red lights and stop signs.

2) Verification of maintainability of traffic-accident-reduction effects To verify the maintainability of the expected traffic-accident-reduction effects, quantitative measures will be taken throughout the test period concerning how driver behavior is affected by driver habituation to the provision of information. Based on the hypothesis that "the provision of information alone will have declining accident-reduction effects", the results of the verification will be used in the development of systems that enhance traffic-accident-reduction effects and their maintainability through coordination with driver warnings and onboard vehicle control systems.

3) Analysis of driver behavior under a variety of conditions Drive recorders will be used to collect detailed data on driver behavior, immediate-vicinity traffic conditions, etc. in various situations, including "near miss"-type situations (such as sudden braking that does not result in an accident). Such data will be analyzed for use in the development of future systems and in the study of measures to improve the traffic environment.

Integrated Safety Management Concept

Toyota's safety technology and vehicle development aims to provide optimal driving support based on driving conditions, not only by integrating individual safety technologies and systems in the vehicle, but also by adopting vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems (road-to-vehicle) and using information obtained from vehicles other than the driver's (vehicle-to-vehicle), to enhance synergistic effects.

Higher levels of safety are being pursued in five types of situations categorized by the degree of risk of an accident: parking, active safety, pre-crash safety, passive safety and emergency response. By increasing such integration even further in the future, Toyota seeks to reduce dangers related to vehicle use in the pursuit of vehicles that do not cause accidents.

Future technologies of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems 

In the future, it is envisioned that roadside sensors and vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that link vehicles with other vehicles and vehicles with pedestrians (road-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-vehicle and pedestrian-to-vehicle communication systems) will be introduced to try to prevent traffic accidents that are difficult to prevent using just vehicles' autonomous safety systems, particularly in cases in which information cannot be detected visually by drivers or by on-board sensors (such as information on other vehicles at intersections) or traffic regulation information (such as information on the cycle of traffic signals, "STOP" information, etc.)