Tag Archives: toyota

Toyota to build Woven City prototype Smart City of the future

20200107_01_01-1000x525Toyota has revealed plans to build Woven-City a prototype “city” of the future on a 175-acre site at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Announced at CES 2020, the global consumer technology show in Las Vegas, the Woven City will be a fully connected ecosystem, powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

 Envisioned as a “living laboratory,” the city will be home to full-time residents and researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment.

 Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation President, said: “Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the infrastructure. With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology, in both the virtual and physical realms, maximising its potential.”

 Toyota will extend an open invitation to collaborate to other commercial and academic partners and invite interested scientists and researchers from around the world to come and work on their projects in this one-of-a-kind, real-world incubator.

 “We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future to take advantage of his unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all,” said Akio Toyoda.

Toyota has commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), to design Woven City. His team has designed many high-profile projects, from 2 World Trade Center in New York and Lego House in Denmark, to Google’s Mountain View and London headquarters.

 Design of the city

Under the city’s masterplan, street use has three designations: for faster vehicles only; for a mix of lower-speed vehicles, personal mobility and pedestrians; and for pedestrians only (a park-like promenade). These three street types will weave together in an organic grid pattern to help accelerate the testing of autonomous transport.

 The city is planned to be fully sustainable, with buildings made mostly of wood using traditional Japanese joinery and robotised production methods, to minimise the carbon footprint. The roofs will be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power, adding to the energy produced by hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota also plans to weave in the natural world throughout the city, with native vegetation and hydroponics.

 Residential buildings will be equipped with the latest human support technologies, such as in-home robotics to assist with daily living. Homes will use sensor-based AI to check the occupants’ health, take care of basic needs and enhance daily life. The project will be an opportunity to deploy connected technology with integrity and trust, securely and positively.

 Only fully autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares to move residents around. Throughout the city, autonomous Toyota e-Palette vehicles will be used for transport and deliveries, and as changeable mobile retail units.

 Neighbourhood parks, a large central recreation area and a central plaza for social gatherings will be designed to bring the community together. Toyota believes that encouraging human connection will be an equally important aspect of the Woven City experience.

 Toyota plans to populate Woven City with employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists and industry partners. The plan is to start with 2,000 people and increase the number as the city evolves.

Ground-breaking for the site is scheduled for early 2021. Those interested in partnering with the project can find more details at Woven-city.global.

 Source: Toyota


NTT, Ericsson, Toyota forge connected car partnership


Companies from the technology and automotive sectors formed a consortium focused on creating the network architecture to handle the deluge of data expected to be generated by connected cars.

The newly-formed Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC) includes Ericsson, Intel, NTT, NTT Docomo and Toyota and aims to define best network practice for the new architecture.

It is also set to investigate methods of delivering technologies including intelligent driving and maps updated with real-time data.

The companies predict data transmitted between connected vehicles and cloud networks will be 10,000 times larger than recorded currently and is likely to reach 10 exabytes per month in 2025.

AECC will attempt to define suitable network architecture and industry best practice standards for how the cars interface with the network.

In a joint statement the members said the increase in data would: “Trigger the need for new architectures of network and computing infrastructure to support distributed resources and topology-aware storage capacity. The architectures will be compliant with applicable standards, which requires collaboration on a local and global scale”.

The group expects to announce new members in the coming months.

AECC is one of a number of partnerships formed by companies throughout the world to accelerate the development of connected vehicle technology across various markets. Members include app companies, technology vendors, network operators and automotive companies.

Source: Mobile World Live

Toyota pushes into blockchain tech to enable the next generation of cars

On the same day that Ford officially ousted its chief executive in a bid to remake itself as future-focused vehicle manufacturer, Toyota announced its own steps to embrace technology’s next wave.

Andwhile Ford is looking to catch up to the leaders in autonomous and electric vehicle manufacturing, Toyota (through the Toyota Research Institute) appears to be taking the next fork in the road toward enabling that autonomous and electric future.

Together with MIT’s Media Lab, Toyota has enlisted a series of partners that specialize in different aspects of blockchain technology (the distributed, encrypted ledger technology that powers the cryptocurrency bitcoin) to explore how the technology may be applied to the car industry.

Toyota unveiled a number of projects that aimed to address how software will help people become comfortable with autonomous technologies. That means monitoring and distributing information about the safety of individual vehicles, the way owners use the cars, and cut down on fraud.

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at Toyota’s research institute, in a statement. “Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”

Initially the research is focusing on sharing data on every trip that an autonomous vehicle takes; on developing tools that users can have to make ride-sharing easier; and to create new insurance products that are usage-based for customers who may prefer that coverage.

“I’m excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data,” said Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, in a statement. “Our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”

TRI isn’t just working with MIT on the initiative, but also with a few choice startups and smaller companies big in the blockchain space. Berlin-based BigchainDB, a startup which raised over $3 million to develop a flexible, scalable blockchain-based ledger; is helping develop the kind of architecture Toyota will need to roll out to have growth and scale it wants. Meanwhile Oaken Innovations and Commuterz, from Dallas and Tel Aviv, respectively, are working to develop blockchain apps for car sharing, vehicle access and payments and carpooling.

Finally, Toyota is tapping the Los Angeles-based blockchain application developer, Gem to port the applications it has been developing for the healthcare insurance industry to car insurance. The company provides a ledger for distributed inputs from a number of different sources that can then be used to automate much of the insurance claim process.

With Toyota, Gem will specifically work on usage-based insurance products tied to the telematics coming off of a users’ vehicle.

TRI’s partners include: Berlin-based BigchainDB, which is building the data exchange for sharing driving and autonomous vehicle testing data; Oaken Innovations, based in Dallas and Toronto, is developing an application for P2P car sharing, vehicle access and payments with a newly created mobility token; Commuterz, a startup from Israel, is working with TRI on a P2P carpooling solution; Gem, from Los Angeles, is working with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions (TIMS) – Toyota’s joint venture telematics car insurance company – and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services on the usage-based insurance platform.


Source: Jonathan Shieber Techcrunch

Toyota to Launch Sales of ‘Kirobo Mini’


Presales of Compact Communication Partner to Start at Tokyo and Aichi Car Dealers This Winter
October 03, 2016
What Kirobo Mini can do:
  • Engage in casual conversation, backed by gestures and the ability to respond to user emotions
  • Grow and provide tailored companionship by remembering user preferences and past events
  • Be taken just about anywhere, with its fit-in-the-palm size and seated height of only 10cm
  • Enhance its conversational ability using information from the vehicle and home


Toyota Motor Corporation plans to launch sales of its compact and cuddlesome “Kirobo Mini” communication partner through Toyota vehicle dealers across Japan in 2017. The nationwide rollout will be preceded by presales at designated dealers in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture this winter, for which advanced orders will be taken online. Kiboro Mini is tentatively priced at 39,800 yen (excluding tax).

Kirobo Mini is a miniature communication partner developed to provide companionship. It fits in the palm of the hand and is only 10cm high when seated. It turns its head toward the person speaking and engages in casual conversation*1 while moving its head and hands. Its compact size means it can be taken just about anywhere, helping it to fulfill its role as a cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication.

Kiboro Mini’s range of gestures and conversation abilities are mainly made possible by connecting Kirobo Mini via Bluetooth®*2 to smartphones installed with a dedicated app. A built-in camera enables Kirobo Mini to recognize people’s facial expressions, through which it tries to detect their emotions so that it can accordingly adjust its manner of speaking and moving. Kirobo Mini can also converse based on information drawn from the vehicle or home.

TMC has been aiming to create automobiles that exceed customer expectations and that customers view as “irreplaceable companions”. In a similar connection, Kiboro Mini is a manifestation of the Toyota Heart Project, which aims to develop a distinctly humanlike interaction between man and machine in a format different from automobiles based on the same fundamental concept of “Inspiring the Heart, Inspiring You”, which Toyota applies to its automobile manufacturing.

By providing people opportunities to live with Kirobo Mini, Toyota hopes to contribute to making life and society more abundant.

Kirobo Mini will be on display at the IT and electronics exhibition “CEATEC*3 JAPAN 2016 ‘Connecting Society, Creating the Future'” to be held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture from October 4 to October 7. Visitors will be able to experience communicating with Kirobo Mini.

*1Using standard Japanese

*2Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.

*3Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies

Outline of Kirobo Mini
Kirobo Mini can
  1. Engage in casual conversation, backed by gestures and the ability to respond to user emotions

    Kirobo Mini converses while understanding what is being said to it, as well as interprets the facial expressions of the speaker. It adjusts its gestures and tone of voice to match the conversation, and, moreover, makes communication more meaningful by blinking and looking at the person speaking.

  2. Grow and provide tailored companionship by remembering user preferences and past events

    Kirobo Mini remembers user likes and dislikes and shared travels. It is able to gradually adjust its points of conversation to make them more suitable for the user.

  3. Be taken just about anywhere, with its fit-in-the-palm size and seated height of only 10cm

    Kirobo Mini fits in the palm of the hand and is only 10cm high when seated. Its compact size means it can be enjoyed in one’s home, car or elsewhere.

  4. Enhance its conversational ability using information from the vehicle and home

    Based on information about the vehicle or home obtained through connected services, Kirobo Mini can provide more-caring comments, such as: “That was a long drive. Good job.” or “Welcome home! A warm bath is waiting.”*

*Function scheduled to be available for vehicles that can use the Kirobo Mini-compatible T-Connect service and through the TSC-HEMS service provided by Toyota Home Corporation.

To see video of Kirobo Mini in action, go to: http://newsroom.toyota.co.jp/en/detail/13786975/
Source: Toyota

Toyota is well connected

 Toyota-Logo (1)

Toyota Connected CEO Zack Hicks explains how he wants to contextualize connected cars and give customers an escape from what he calls the “tyranny of technology.”

So what exactly is Toyota Connected?
Pretty much everything we as individuals do today emits data. And we really should be leveraging it to make better cars and create better experiences for our customers. That’s Toyota Connected.

Our cars now and in the future will emit and provide us with data. We’ll have cameras on the outside. Cars will be capable of telling us what radio stations and songs people actually listen to in their vehicle. Our cars will be able to tell us other things, like customers’ travel patterns. And we know whether they are happy or unhappy because of survey data.

That’s stuff we’re doing now?
It’s stuff we have the capability to do now. We’ve proven the capabilities internally, but now it’s time for us to do something amazing with it.

This is about taking that data and making it work for the customer in ways that the customer wants. And customers will have to, as they do today, explicitly opt in.

So one example that comes to mind, every time I get into my car, my phone…
Your phone tells you where you’re going!

Is that kind of a model for Toyota Connected?
It’s a great example. And, you opted in for that on your navigation app. You may not know you opted in, but you did. With Toyota, it’s going to be more explicit to opt in. But otherwise, it’s the same concept – but we’re going to make it even better.

When you get in your car, you shouldn’t have to program in a destination. Based on your driving patterns and preferences, we probably know where you’re going, we should just guide you there and help you avoid traffic. So that’s how we can use data to make a customer’s life better, and it’s not intrusive.

We can also tell when you’re driving outside your normal patterns. We can guess with 80 percent accuracy when you’re not going home. So how we can make that worthwhile? If we know you really like the Dallas Cowboys, and we know there’s a game that day, and you’re traveling in the general direction of the stadium, we can predict with 80 percent accuracy that you’re going to the Cowboys game. We can say, “Looks like you’re going to AT&T stadium, do you want us to route you around traffic and prepay your parking?”

How are we going to know if I like the Cowboys?
Well, if we have access to your public social media posts, we might know that.

So Toyota is going to analyze our customers’ social media?
Public social media posts tell us a lot. Consider LinkedIn. We may be able to learn things like you’ve changed jobs or are actively looking for jobs. It also tells us where you might be in the purchase cycle for a vehicle. On Facebook, if your page is public, you might be posting that you just had a baby, or you just got married. We have access to that public information. If we know that you’re shopping for a car and you just had a baby, you’re probably not looking for a sports car. With that information, maybe we know you’re an avid cyclist, so if you come in for service, we know to give you a loaner vehicle with a bike rack.

We can subscribe to social media feeds, and we do that now. That way we can hear the voice of our customer. These are the public feeds we can get. Now, if somebody posts something private, we won’t see that at all.

The ultimate destination is getting this one-on-one relationship with the customer through marketing or throughout the ownership experience. In the future as we’re building new apps, we won’t shove every app on everybody. But if we know you’re a Cowboys fan or you’re really into the arts, maybe we give you apps that are specific to those types of things that can make your life easier, instead of apps that you don’t really care about.

So it’s just using the information customers volunteer to give us?
Right. Many of the music-streaming companies and radio stations are doing that today. They’re monitoring how long their customers are on a station or on a certain song. And if the customer changes the channel during the same song, a lot of music streaming services will just stop playing that song for you. So it’s the same type of technology.

How do we communicate that this is not going to be intrusive, but will be helpful?
Toyota subscribes to the privacy principles that we’ve partnered with the U.S. government and the FTC on.* Part of that commitment is being very transparent about opting in or out on us using this data. But I also think we have to tell the value story. People are willing to share their data if they’re going to get something that’s a better value in exchange. But we also have a responsibility to not do something damaging with that data. We can’t just give it to somebody else. And the customers have to know that if we’re going to give it to somebody else, it’s for value. Today when you get a flat tire and you push the SOS button, we’re sending data to either AAA or another service provider. But we don’t want to give it to a marketing firm and have them do something that betrays our customers’ trust.

The term “tyranny of technology” was the big headline-grabbing part of your comments during the launch. What does that mean?
We want to make technology easier for people. Today, there are so many apps and devices, and it’s overwhelming. Our devices should be a means to an end versus being the destination. In restaurants, you see families staring at their devices and not even talking to each other. That’s the tyranny of technology.

We aim to take the available technology and put it in the background, and then making it more of a digital concierge. Then we’re taking the device away from the person and giving them the answers that they need and more time back in their day.

We’ve talked about all these things we can do, what is the role for Toyota Connected in making them happen? Are you the doers or are you the thinkers?
We’re the doers. I think we have to be able to deliver on these ideas. Otherwise we’ll just be another think tank and we’ll quickly have to close our doors. So right away we’ll be delivering capabilities for TIMS, we’ll also be delivering data and connectivity for Dr. Gill Pratt’s organization (Toyota Research Institute) for autonomous driving. And we’ll be building services to be delivered in the vehicle.

Where are we compared to our competitors?
This is going to push us forward and give us a leg up on our competitors because they haven’t organized around the data yet. We still have a real opportunity to deliver some exciting services nobody has done before.

* The Consumer Protection Privacy Principles is a self-regulatory framework that Toyota was instrumental in moving forward.  The Principles require clear and meaningful disclosures about data handling and also, consumer express consent for the use and sharing of certain types of sensitive.

Source: Toyota


Smart Device Link Logo

  • New developer program is latest step for SmartDeviceLink – the agnostic app interface software that aims to set the industry standard for accessing smartphone apps inside the vehicle
  • SmartDeviceLink.com will provide developers with information they need to build smartphone apps compatible with vehicles by any automaker adopting the open-source connectivity software contributed to the industry by Ford
  • Toyota Motor Corp. has already announced adoption of the technology for future vehicles; PSA Groupe, Honda, Subaru and Mazda are exploring adoption

SmartDeviceLink’s new developer program aims to make it easier to build in-car apps for a growing list of global automakers that have adopted or are exploring adoption of the Ford-created smartphone app interface standard.

Working with Toyota Motor Corp. and other leading automakers, Ford created SmartDeviceLink.com – a new program that makes it easier for developers to access the information they need to build and launch their services for millions of cars on the road globally.

“We first set out to develop a way for Ford customers to access and control their favorite smartphone apps using voice commands,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “Now, seeing how our innovative software is serving new industry partners is very rewarding. We look forward to innovating together to keep pace with the needs and wants of consumers around the world.”

SmartDeviceLink is the open-source software on which the Ford AppLink platform is built. It provides consumers an easier way to access their favorite smartphone apps via voice command or touch screen interface. Part of Ford SYNC®, AppLink is available on more than 6 million Ford vehicles globally, and is expected to reach 28 million more by 2020.

Ford contributed its AppLink software to the open-source community in 2013. Toyota was the first automaker to adopt the technology, and plans to introduce it on vehicles in the near future. PSA Groupe, Honda, Subaru and Mazda are exploring similar integration. Auto suppliers QNX Software Systems and UIEvolution are adopting the Ford software as well, with plans to integrate it into their products.

Already, Pandora, Spotify, AccuWeather and iHeartRadio feature SmartDeviceLink compatibility, and other popular apps are planning product integrations in the coming months. Adopting and supporting the SmartDeviceLink protocol will provide automakers worldwide with immediate access to a growing ecosystem of compatible smartphone apps to enhance the in-car experience for their own customers.

Industry adoption of SmartDeviceLink offers significant benefits to automakers interested in creating apps for safer in-car use and providing greater control to customers over how their data is utilized.

For developers, industry adoption provides greater scale due to the availability of the technology in vehicles across multiple brands. It enables automakers and suppliers to maintain brand-specific, differentiated entertainment and connectivity systems that broaden choices for customers in terms of how to connect and control their smartphones in the car.

As SmartDeviceLink is both device- and operating system-agnostic, it’s poised to play a key role in the integration of apps in emerging markets where new mobile operating systems may become popular.

“We’re focused on building the best tools to support the growing SmartDeviceLink ecosystem and promote the developer community,” said Justin Dickow, product manager for Livio, the Ford subsidiary that maintains the SmartDeviceLink software. “The SmartDeviceLink developer portal is designed to increase the visibility of the software, improve the documentation process, and help developers source the information they need to create great in-car applications and experiences for consumers.”

SmartDeviceLink.com offers a hub of information for automakers and suppliers interested in the technology. It includes software requirements for developing apps compatible with SmartDeviceLink, along with system requirements needed to adopt the technology. The site will point developers to the online location of the software code necessary for a given project.

Livio continues to manage the open-source project by working with SmartDeviceLink adopters to build the appropriate interface into each unique vehicle environment.

Source: Ford

Toyota Opens Third Autonomous Driving Research Facility


Toyota Research Institute to fund studies at the University of Michigan

Toyota is to open a third Toyota Research Institute facility in the USA, which will fund studies into artificial intelligence, materials science and robotics. It will be located in Ann Arbor, close to the University of Michigan campus.

The new centre, known as TRI-ANN, is due to open in June this year and is set to build a 50-strong team. It will join the TRI facility which opened in Palo Alto in January (TRI-PAL) to work with Stanford University, and TRI-CAM in Cambridge, which works with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr Gill Pratt, TRI Chief Executive, speaking at the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose yesterday (7 April) explained the decision to locate at Ann Arbor reflected the links Toyota has with the community and the benefits to be gained from close proximity to the university and facilities such as the Toyota-sponsored Mobility Transformation Center.

Toyota also has two well-established technical centres nearby, which have been researching the concept of autonomous vehicles for more than a decade. A group of about 15 team members will transfer to the new TRI-ANN facility when it opens, together with University of Michigan professors Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson, who will be area leads respectively for mapping/localisation and perception.

Professor Olson commented: “Sensor hardware and algorithms are improving at a tremendous pace. TRI researchers will push the frontier even further, resulting in safer vehicles and more helpful robots in the home.”

Professor Eustice added: “Ann Arbor is a fantastic location for TRI to expand its autonomous driving efforts. We will benefit from Toyota’s existing team and the University of Michigan’s research talent and facilities where we can perform extreme-limit testing in a wide variety of environments.”

Each TRI facility will have a different core discipline: TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving; TRI-PAL will work on so-called “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged, with the vehicle assisting when needed; and TRI-CAM dedicating a large part of its work to simulation and deep learning.

The Toyota Research Institute is an enterprise designed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.  With initial funding of $1 billion, it has four initial mandates.

The first is to strive to enhance automobile safety with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, regardless of the skill or condition of the driver.

The second is to work to increase access to vehicles for those who otherwise could not drive, including older people and those with special needs.

The third is to help translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility.

Finally, TRI will accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine leaning, particularly in the sphere of materials science. This will also help reduce costs and improve the performance of future mobility systems.

Beyond these, TRI is engaging in multiple projects with the three universities and is also pursuing collaboration with other car makers, IT companies, suppliers, research labs and academic institutions for the joint development of autonomous technologies.

Dr Pratt said: “Although the industry, including Toyota, has made great strides in the last five years, much of what we have collectively accomplished has been easy, because most driving is easy. Where we need autonomy to help most is when the driving is difficult.  It’s this hard part that TRI intends to address.

“Toyota’s goal is safe mobility for all, at any time, in any place, and the tremendous improvements in quality of life that such universal mobility can bring.”

Source: Toyota

Japan’s Government team up with Car Makers to develop Intelligent Mapping

Japan Government, Toyota, Nissan to Work Together on Intelligent MapsJapan Government, Toyota, Nissan to Work Together on Intelligent MapsCar-GPS-Navigator
Japan’s government will reportedly team up with the country’s carmakers, including Toyota and Nissan, to develop intelligent maps in the country by 2018, a technology key for autonomous driving.


  • Driven by competition to improve the technology for autonomous driving
  • Plans to incorporate driving data gathered by the automakers
  • Such systems supply information to control self-driving cars


According to the Nikkei Daily, Japan is working towards generating standardised intelligent maps, incorporated with driver data, and will see the country’s automakers, map making companies and the government collaborate on the project.

Intelligent mapping systems provide the essential information required to control self-driving cars, and also provide technology to share location data with other map users.

The news in Japan follows a report at the end of last week linking German auto supplier Bosch with taking a potential stake in mapping business HERE, as interest in the business formerly developed by Nokia continues to hot up.

Reuters reports the company is in talks with BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, the consortium that bought HERE last year from the Finnish vendor for €2.8 billion, about taking a stake, while the talks are also designed to ensure that Bosch can continue to offer services to HERE customers.

Amazon, Microsoft, car maker Renault and auto supplier Continental have also reportedly been in talks about taking a stake in HERE.

Source: Mobile World Live/Co-Star

Ford & Toyota deploy news safety technology

Ford, Toyota Crash-Avoidance Systems Target Pedestrian Fatalities


As pedestrian versus car fatalities continue to rise , automakers are working on new technologies to help address the problem. Most recently, both Ford and Toyota have developed new safety systems that use both automatic braking and steering to prevent the vehicles from striking a pedestrian or other obstacle in the roadway. Both announced their innovations last week, with Ford revealing a test car using its Obstacle Avoidance system, and Toyota announcing the development of its Pre-collision System with Pedestrian-avoidance Steer Assist.

Ford’s test car, a Focus introduced at its proving grounds in Lommel, Belgium, uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles that are stopped or slowing in the same lane ahead, or to avoid hitting a pedestrian. The system first issues warnings when it detects slow-moving or stationary obstacles; if the driver fails to steer or brake following those warnings, the system automatically steers and brakes to avoid a crash. Ford developed the Obstacle Avoidance-equipped Focus as part of a research project in cooperation with a consortium of 29 partners creating active safety systems to intervene in imminent collisions.

“There are many instances — such as unexpectedly queuing traffic ahead — when this technology could benefit both the driver whose car is equipped with the technology and others on the road,” said Barb Samardzich, vice president of product development for Ford of Europe, in a statement.

On Friday in Japan, Toyota announced that it had developed a similar system, which uses automatic steering combined with increased precollision braking force and automatic braking specifically designed to help avoid striking pedestrians. The system, PCS with Pedestrian-avoidance Steer, kicks in when automatic braking alone is not sufficient, such as when the vehicle is going too fast or a pedestrian suddenly steps into its path, according to the automaker.

An onboard sensor detects pedestrians and issues a visual alert on the dashboard in front of the driver; if the likelihood of a collision increases, the system issues an audio alarm, and the increased precollision braking force and automatic braking functions are activated. If the system determines a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone, and there is sufficient room for avoidance, steer assist is activated to steer the vehicle away from the pedestrian.

“Toyota is committed to developing safety technologies that help eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries involving pedestrians and other vulnerable road users,” the automaker said in a statement.

Toyota said it intends to make the pedestrian-avoidance technology widely available by 2015. Ford did not specify a timeline for the availability of the Obstacle Avoidance system.

Source: Co-Star

Smartphones, ADAS and the connected car

Smartphones, ADAS and the connected car


A new system being developed by General Motors explores how pedestrians’ smartphones could be used to alert drivers to potential collisions. And the broader automotive community is taking note.

Automakers like Volvo and Toyota have unveiled pedestrian detection in the last few years, but those systems are based on refinements to in-car accident avoidance systems, such as vehicle-embedded cameras and radars.

In GM’s case, an app on a pedestrian’s smartphone transmits location information via Wi-Fi Direct, a peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows devices to connect directly without a remote access point, much like Bluetooth.

Wi-Fi chipsets in nearby vehicles receive the signal, and onboard notifications—a flashing directional arrow on a console display, in one GM demonstration—alert the driver to the presence of pedestrians or bikers in the area.

“So many people carry cell phones today,” says Don Grimm, senior researcher at General Motors, “and Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t require a hardware change. Pretty much any Wi-Fi chipset that’s out there today, if the vendor provides a driver for it, can operate as a Wi-Fi Direct device.”

Lower entry to ADAS

Deployment of the system is still about four years out, but already major car manufacturers like GM are getting serious about using smartphone technology to augment existing safety features on vehicles and to lower the barriers to entry of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for consumers.

Smartphones may soon play integral roles in getting vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems off the ground as well, analysts say.

One reason is that automakers see huge cost advantages to leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones to bring the latest technology into vehicles. That’s the logic driving Ford’s Sync App Link, Mercedes-Benz’s DriveStyle app and BMW’s ConnectedDrive, tools that put the smartphone in the technological driver’s seat.

“I think some of the promise with wireless communication is the opportunity to bring some of these safety features to volume vehicles,” Grimm says. “We can bring the safety systems of our Cadillac cars to our Chevy fleet.”

Roger Lanctot, associate director in the global automotive practice at Strategy Analytics, sees potential in Grimm’s goal. 

“The idea of enabling an enhanced safety experience in a car by virtue of enabling communication between a driver’s mobile device and the roadside or other cars is a compelling and proven proposition,” he says. “It’s proven for tolling and proven for traffic, and there are existing solutions. It’s early days, but I think the technology exists to enhance safe and efficient driving using mobile-device connectivity.”

What about DSRC?

GM is currently considering ways that smartphones can complement dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology to create feature rich V2V and V2I systems.

DSRC, a short- to medium-range communication band reserved for automotive use, is being put through its paces in testing in the United States and Europe as the industry moves closer to a fully connected vehicle.

In Europe, where V2I deployment is being pushed more stridently than in the United States, there are test beds where work zone warnings are already being communicated via DSRC. The largest trial in the United States is underway in Ann Arbor, where nearly 3000 vehicles have been outfitted with DSRC devices. That trial will wrap up later this year.

But ramping up V2V and V2I will take time, and using DSRC as the band of choice is far from a foregone conclusion. “There are some clouds on the horizon,” Lanctot warns.

Most significant among these is the possibility of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowing the sharing of the 5.9 GHz DSRC band, which could raise serious concerns about signal interference.

This leaves OEMs like GM unsure which way the connected vehicle winds will blow a few years down the line. And rather than rolling out feature-rich systems and risk deploying expensive technology that doesn’t get used, Grimm is dreaming up ways to put minimal DSRC equipment into vehicles and leaving the rest to the smartphone.

DSRC light

A DSRC chipset embedded in a vehicle might serve as a gateway between the driver’s smartphone and an external DSRC signal from another vehicle or the roadside.

“I could download a mobile app on my phone,” Grimm says. “Say I want to be notified about severe potholes or situations where someone slipped on a patch of black ice. The application would run, the vehicle portion of the system would broadcast out its location and some status information. Likewise, the vehicle would receive information from other communicating vehicles. If there was a vehicle ahead that went over a severe pothole, that vehicle would communicate with mine, and this DSRC gateway device would send the information to my phone. The phone then determines if it’s worth notifying the driver about the event.”

For a system like this to work, auto makers will need to offer seamless integration across major platforms. GM has developed its own proprietary protocol to communicate the serial port profile and Apple HID profile over Bluetooth. Going forward, MirrorLink may be another solution.

Another possibility is to bypass the embedded gateway approach and put DSRC chipsets directly into handsets. “There are companies like GeoToll right now that are talking about adding a sleeve to a phone,” Lanctot says. “I think the industry is underestimating the power of the smartphone, and how it can be leveraged in this regard.”

Clouds over the cloud

One solution Grimm doesn’t see catching on for imminent accident avoidance is cloud hosting based around the LTE standard. That’s because cell speeds can diminish with high network use and lags occur as a signal is handed off from one tower to another.

“It’s not most efficient way to communicate safety info between vehicles,” he says. “If we’re 50 feet apart on the road, it seems like a more efficient use of bandwidth to broadcast within our local area up to maybe ¼ or 1/8 of a mile rather than go two miles away to the tower and then all the way back.”

However, he does leave open the possibility that cloud-hosting services will become aggregators of road condition information. Drivers could be alerted to hazardous road conditions that other vehicles broadcast days or weeks earlier. 

Source: Greg Nichols TU.