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Honda testing support system to help drivers hit green lights

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April 3, 2014

Illustration of Honda's driving support system functions

Illustration of Honda's driving support system functions

In addition to freeing up time and creating lounge-like cabins, one of the big selling points of semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles is in creating safer, more efficient roadways. Toward that end, Honda is beginning to test a driving support system that uses car-to-infrastructure communications to create freer flowing, more efficient roadways.

Like the technology recently revealed by Audi, Honda's driving support system is designed to help drivers better prepare for traffic lights. The system uses onboard information about the vehicle's location and speed, along with two-way infrared communicators placed on roadways, to assess the vehicle's ability to hit a green light at an upcoming intersection. It then displays the speed that the driver needs to maintain in order to hit the green light. So long as the driver maintains that speed, he or she will sail through the intersection without getting stopped by red.

As ideal as it would be if the system flashed "green" every time, sometimes the driver will still be forced to stop at a red light. Honda's hardware attempts to make this more efficient, too, sending a notification to the car's display so that the driver can begin decelerating. When stopped at the the light, the display shows a countdown to green, prompting the driver to begin accelerating as soon as it turns green. Having a countdown should help eliminate the problem of daydreaming drivers holding up traffic when they fail to notice the light turning green, assuming drivers don't daydream straight through the countdown.

Honda announced last week that it will begin testing the system on five specific public routes in Japan's Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture this month. It is performing the testing as part of Japan's greater Universal Traffic Management Systems (UTMS) and will work with the UTMS Society of Japan and the Tochigi Prefectural Police. The test period will run about one year and involve 100 vehicles.

As explained by the UTMS Society, "Universal Traffic Management Systems are systems that realize safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly traffic society through the application of constantly evolving technology such as information communication technologies."

Honda believes that the driving support system will smoothen acceleration and deceleration, in turn preventing accidents and increasing fuel efficiency. It plans to analyze the driving support system's effects on vehicular behavior, particularly sudden stopping and acceleration, traffic patterns, and fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Honda calls the testing the final stage in vetting the system before it can be put into practical use. The current iteration of the driving support system requires the driver to accelerate, decelerate and maintain speed, but it's easy to see how the system could be automated in the future, using the external communications information to automatically speed or slow the vehicle.

Source: Honda

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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1 Comment

This concept is great, but I'm hopeful that someday, by programming our destination, a better system will coordinate the speed, turn calculations and traffic flow based on quantified vehicles, vehicle speeds, wait times and all other inputs to get us to destinations with the fewest number of stops, while also taking into account who's going uphill versus flat or downhill...

Where applying regenerative braking is advantageous versus coasting... where getting closer to the vehicle in front of you that's going the same direction will net greater efficiency due to wind, yaw, and atmospheric conditions...

Add minimum standards for braking adequacy, tire condition & inflation and the aptitude of the said vehicle doing the work. Albeit, this would all have to be automatic and flawless, because we're all too ignorant to do all that in our heads...

Screw it... I'll just ride my unlicensed, uninsured bicycle and get the net benefits and innate efficiencies already in place there. See you out there, on my bike, of course... JD

Howell Haus
4th April, 2014 @ 11:47 am PDT
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