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Nissan test advanced road traffic system aimed at reducing accidents and easing congestion


September 17, 2006

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September 18, 2006 Nissan is set to begin testing an intelligent transportation system in Japan that allows vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to help reduce traffic accidents and ease congestion. The system uses information obtained from nearby vehicles and roadside optical beacons to wirelessly alert drivers to potential danger from approaching vehicles. It also provides drivers with fastest-route information with Nissan’s probe server collecting city –wide traffic data from the mobile phones of Nissan’s CARWINGS navigation service subscribers, taxi services, and vehicle data collected by mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo. This information is then sent to the driver’s navigation screen where it is displayed as real-time maps showing the traffic flow and density. Screen shots and diagrams here.

The test, which is being conducted to evaluate the receptivity of drivers to such a system, will run from Oct. 1, 2006 until the end of March 2009 in Kanagawa Prefecture, about 25 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. About 10,000 drivers, who must be subscribers to Nissan’s CARWINGS navigation service, are expected to participate in the test. Applications for the test will be accepted starting in late September.

The trial run will test the following components of the system:

Vehicle alert

This system alerts drivers to the presence of vehicles moving too fast at blind intersections. For example, if the system determines that a car is approaching a driver too fast from the left, a buzzer will sound and a voice recording will call out: “Car approaching from left.” At the same time, an image of an approaching vehicle will appear on the driver’s CARWINGS navigation screen.

The system will also alert a driver when is detects that he or she approaching a stop sign or red traffic light too fast.

Speed alert

This system warns drivers when they are speeding in a school zone. As soon as a driver passes the speed limit in the area, a buzzer will sound and a voice recording will warn: “School ahead. Watch your speed.” An image of a school zone sign will also appear on the driver’s navigation screen.

Dynamic route finder

This system informs drivers of the quickest route to their destination using probe data collected from mobile phones of CARWINGS subscribers, including taxi owners, as well as vehicle data collected by mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo. All of the data is sent to Nissan’s probe server where it is collectively processed into traffic information. The data is then sent to the driver’s navigation screen where it is displayed in the form of real-time maps showing the traffic flow of a greater coverage of roads compared to VICS (Vehicle Information and Communications System), a public service providing similar information via FM multiplex broadcasting, as well as radio wave and infrared beacons.

Both the vehicle alert and the speed alert systems will be tested until the end of fiscal year 2007. The dynamic route finder system will be tested until the end of fiscal 2008.

Nissan’s intelligent transportation system test is being implemented in cooperation with NTT DoCoMo, consumer electronics maker Matsushita Electric, and Xanavi Informatics, a maker of vehicle navigation systems and software. Matsushita Electric developed the roadside optical beacons for the test in conjunction with Japan’s National Police Agency, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Headquarters and the Universal Traffic Management Society of Japan (UTMS).

Based on the results of the test, Nissan is planning to implement its intelligent transportation system in Japan and then globally in the future as part of its efforts to help reduce traffic accidents and congestion. In Japan, Nissan has set a target of halving the number of traffic fatalities or serious injuries involving Nissan vehicles by 2015 compared with the level in 1995.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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