ITS: improving transport systems for the future mobility society

~ Recent initiatives toward the realization of automated driving ~



 Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is a generic term for the initiatives aiming for solving issues in the traffic field through the utilization of information and communication technology. The ITS development began in the 1980s in Japan, the U.S. and Europe with the primary purpose to reduce the number of traffic congestions and accidents.

 Various ITS developments in Japan include the development of Advanced cruise-assist Highway System(AHS), new traffic management systems, and the system construction for collecting and utilizing traffic information. Professional organizations are established and engaged in these ITS developments. ITS Japan works as a nonprofit organization to promote the ITS development through the collaboration among the government, private enterprises and academic institutions.
 Currently, more than 54.28 million car navigation systems and 36.53million Vehicle Information and Communication System(VICS) onboard units have been shipped in Japan (as of the end of December 2012), and the Electronic Toll Collection system (ETC) devices are installed on more than 53.14 million vehicles or 88.5% of all vehicles on the road (as of March 2013), which makes Japan as the leading country in the ITS development field. (Source: the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT)).

 The original objective of ITS development is to improve safety, but it has been expanded to cover various factors such as the global warming countermeasures. More recent development efforts are directed to the driving safety support systems with the vehicle control as well as the provision of traffic information as in the ITS Spot Service and DSSS projects, and the highly automated driving system characterized by platooning of trucks aimed at increasing overall fuel economy.

 This report contains the latest progress of the ITS initiatives summarized in the ITS-Japan's figure, "image of the new mobility society" (shown below) and an interview with Professor Sadayuki Tsugawa of Meijo University who has been involved in numerous automated driving projects. The report also introduces the current expansion of information provision service via ITS spots and other infrastructural element investments and the expansion of driving safety support technologies using infrastructure-based information. Furthermore, the latest efforts toward the practical application of the ITS technologies is described including the autonomous driver support technologies based primarily on onboard sensors and current initiatives on automated driving.

 The report also compares Japan's progress with those in Europe and the U.S. In Europe, technical development efforts are  made more actively than in Japan under the support provided by the European Commission as part of EC's Seventh Framework Program. Meanwhile in the United States, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been conducting the evaluations for the infrastructure-cooperative systems.

 Finally, the report summarizes several issues that need to be cleared for further expansion of ITS, such as cooperative operation of plural systems and non-technical aspects for future diffusion of automated driving.

Related Reports:
The future of car-mounted camera-based systems (Jan. 2013)