2010 we had a brief discussion with Jeff Lovell, an engineer
in Toyota's Integrated Vehicle Systems (IVS) group, located in Ann
Arbor, Michigan. That discussion eventually led to us getting
the chance to get a personal briefing on Toyota's IVS efforts.Amid
quality concerns and recent recalls, Toyota is looking to improve the
safety of its cars. Toyota, however, is not alone in that
objective -- across the industry, many
companies are trying to come up with solutions to
safeguard drivers from their own errors, and additionally help guide
drivers to the optimal speed to prevent traffic congestion and fuel
waste.The answer to these problems may well lie with
integrated vehicle systems. Integrated systems on a most basic
level consist of wireless devices that let cars "talk" to
each other and to roadside devices in order to take safety
precautions or give the driver advice.Toyota is a participant
on CAMP (Crash Avoidance Metrics Project), a project organized by
Safety Communications Consortium 3 (VSC3) [PDF], an
automaker alliance that is comprised of Nissan, Honda, Toyota,
Hyundai-Kia, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.
Toyota is also a member of Intellidrive,
which contains the same players minus Hyundai-Kia and with BMW and
Chrysler added. VSC3 handles more of the tech development,
while Intellidrive champions the business and policy side of the
technology.Jeff Lovell describes Toyota's personal progress
in the field describing, "Maybe you saw an out of control car
coming." He says the company has demonstrated systems, including
a 2008 New York Auto
Show demo, which apply the brake in such a scenario,
assuming the car has access to communications with the other vehicle
or roadside sensors.Toyota is making an effort to give the
driver as much flexibility as possible. The driver will first
get a set of increasingly urgent visual and audio warnings. If
they ignore them, auto braking may be applied to prevent an accident,
but even then the driver can retake control. Describes Mr.
Lovell, "If auto braking were to start, if the users applies the
brake or throttle all [automated] braking is canceled."Toyota's
IVS team tells us that their goal is to "equip every car"
with IVS safety features, from the cheapest Toyota models to the
highest end Lexus luxury vehicles. However, it won't be easy.
Stakes Hideki Hada, the group's manager, "Someone needs to work
really hard to make something like this happen."The
communications standards are already well established by industry
groups according to Toyota's IVS group members. An IVS today
consists of wireless transmitters built into cars, communicating on
802.11p standard and the 1609.x
standards. They pass messages in the format SAE
J2375. The hardware used is all standard -- the IVS
software can be loaded onto a preexisting automotive embedded
microcontroller, or a second ECU. The only extra component
needed in terms of hardware is the wireless
Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and
the Research and
Innnovative Technology Association (RITA), the two U.S.
government groups overseeing the technology, will make a critical
decision in 2013 that will affect whether these safety features will
make it into cars in the short term. The groups will rule
whether to acknowledge if the technologies have advanced sufficiently
to make a difference the crash safety ratings. Without this
acknowledgment, most manufacturers will not put the systems in the
vehicles as the majority of customers will not know about or be able
to appreciate the extra investment in each vehicle and, more
significantly, in roadside infrastructure.If the 2013 verdict
is in the favor of IVS systems like Toyota's, a variety of
technologies could be implemented. Toyota showed us one example
that applies the brakes if vehicles signal to each other that they
are getting too close. Another example applies the brakes if
the driver is going to run a red light or hit a pedestrian on a cross
walk. A final example is a signal between the driver and road
lights which tells the driver the speed to follow to make a string of
green lights.The technology certainly sounds promising both
for making driving more efficient and safer. However, it will
come at a major cost. Initial deployment would likely involve
installing communications devices and sensors on highway entrance
ramps and traffic lights in major cities. Eventually the
technology would spread across much of the rest of the nation's roads
making for "smart" connected roads and vehicles.A
common question among DailyTech readers
is when cars will be
able to "drive themselves". Lorenzo Caminiti,
Toyota's IVS Assistant Manager says that the focus is now merely on
safety, but once the infrastructure for these basic IVS technologies
was in place, richer applications like automated driving would become
more feasible.Ultimately, the group expressed a mix of
optimism and concerns about the pace of adoption here in the U.S.
IVS technology has already been deployed to Japanese roadways,
starting with Tokyo, thanks to a major Japanese commitment.
Toyota's Japanese models now have some of these auto braking features
built in, and they are already helping to save lives. The U.S.
trails Japan, according to the team, but they are actually ahead of
China and the European Union -- both of which currently are only in
the beginning stages of considering IVS.In the end, the
entire world and the global industry is headed to the same place
according to Toyota's engineers. A smart global road system that can
communicate with cars and supports relaying intercar signals.
That's something to look forward to in coming years.DailyTech
would like to thank Jeff Lovell and Toyota External Affairs
Specialist Cynthia Mahalak for setting up this interview.
quote: More to my point to the OP progress should not be stopped all together, rather there should be tighter standards.
quote: Automation isn't progress. That's just your opinion. I refuse to argue my point based on YOUR premise of what "progress" is.
quote: The difference is that I went 100 MPH, the car didn't do that for me. I knew when it was safe to do so, the car doesn't. The poor family who's accelerator got stuck and they were all killed? Yeah, the car did that for them. That's the difference.
quote: If this was GM or Ford, they'd be torn apart in the media. Glad to see that Toyota is finanlly getting the bad press it deserves.
quote: And don't forget the thousands of Pontiac Vibe owners that are not being taken care of...because GM doesn't care about them, even thought they have the same defective CTS gas pedal...
quote: What if there are traction issues such as snow?
quote: What if there is an emergency vehicle trying to get by?
quote: What if the traffic lights are faulty?
quote: What if your on the way to the hospital?
quote: What if your avoiding someone behind you in another Toyota so they don't rear end you?
quote: to safeguard drivers from their own errors