Toyota ITS Connect: New system equipped in Prius and other models

Real-time road information transmitted to improve safety of autonomous vehicles



The cutting edge national
The cooperative ITS service being promoted by government and private sectors and ITS spot service (center bottom) have already been implemented. The next-generation DSSS in the upper left (other than the Signal Information Drive System (SIDS)) have recently been practically realized by Toyota. The company is currently developing three other systems and SIDS. (Source: ITS Japan)

 This report will examine ITS Connect, which was equipped in the all-new Prius, the facelifted Crown Majesta, and Royal/Athlete, three Toyota models that were launched in Japan in the second half of 2015.

 The ITS spot service (a road safety assist system installed on highways) and DSSS (Driving Safety Support System on public roads), which are already being practically applied, are referred to as Cooperative ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems). ITS support independent safe driving systems and contribute to a reduction in the number of accidents by acquiring information that cannot be fully captured by the sensors installed on vehicles. The ITS Connect system introduced by Toyota implements elaborate safety measures by exceeding conventional cooperative ITS in comprehending and transmitting detailed changes to traffic information in real-time through utilization of infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

 Toyota’s ITS Connect uses a wireless frequency band (760MHz) for dedicated ITS use to realize safety measures including “head-on collision alerts” through I2V communication, and V2V communication to supplement “radar cruise control.” Toyota is now working on systems that use V2V communication to prevent right-angle collisions, and technologies for pedestrian-to-vehicle (P2V) communication.

 These systems will enables vehicle movement prediction, for example, when merging onto the highway, so this is considered essential technology for realizing driving intelligence in the autonomous driving systems of tomorrow.

 One challenge is that there were only around 50 intersections with I2V infrastructure installed in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture at the end of March 2016, and national deployment of the system is projected to be massively expensive. Toyota has decided to make the ITS Connect available on select models under the thinking that increased availability will promote a national drive to install more roadside infrastructure.

 At the same time, Daimler installed Car-to-X communication, which communicates between smart phones, in the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class launched in 2013 and the E-Class launched in 2016 as technology that utilizes V2V communication. The company adopted the communication technology first in the form of a smart phone to smart phone communication for early market introduction, but is currently developing another dedicated V2V communication system.

 Honda has implemented Wi-Fi communication technology where vehicles communicate with each other and pedestrians who have a dedicated smart phone application.

 (Note) When this report mentions a “right-turn” or “left-turn,” it is referring to these operations as they are done in countries that drive on the left-side of the road like Japan.

Related report
Toyota accelerates efforts for "connected car technology(Apr.2016)

Toyota: ITS Connect becomes the world’s first onboard equipment to utilize I2V and V2V communication

 The ITS Connect, a driver assist system that utilizes I2V and V2V communication technologies using a dedicated frequency band (760MHz), was offered by Toyota as an option for the “Toyota Safety Sense P” active safety package on the all-new Prius, the Crown Majesta, and the Royal/Athlete, which were launched in Japan in the second half of 2015. This marks the first application of such technologies in the world.

 The system uses I2V communication to provide new safety measures at intersections such as “right-turn collision alerts.” Toyota has also developed “communicating radar cruise control” that uses V2V communication. In addition to the conventional features that use millimeter-wave radars like detection of the distance between vehicles and relative speeds, the communicating radar cruise control uses the acceleration and deceleration information obtained by V2V communication to improve adaptive tracking performance.

 I2V and V2V communication systems in countries other than Japan are likely to use a bandwidth of 5.9GHz, but Toyota has opted for 760MHz instead as it gets around obstacles easily and is suitable for transmission and reception over a broader range, so this makes it a better choice for communicating with oncoming vehicles in blind spots at intersections, and other such situations.

 Models are increasingly being equipped with ITS Connect, and Toyota expects that the system will help reduce traffic accidents occurring at intersections that account for some 40 percent of all accidents in Japan.

 Roadside infrastructure, an integral part of I2V communication, was installed at roughly 50 intersections in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture at the end of March 2016. Communication-type technology is a system that becomes effective as adoption spreads, and Toyota has taken the lead even in the sense of promulgating it.


ITS Connect
The ITS Connect right-turn collision alert (Source: Toyota)
cruise control
Communicating radar cruise control (Source: Toyota)
Roadside installation
Roadside installation (sensor, antenna) for ITS Connect (Source: Toyota)


Toyota’s ITS Connect

System overview ITS Connect assists safe driving by using direct I2V and V2V communication to detect the presence of other vehicles and pedestrians that cannot be fully captured with onboard sensors and alert the driver.
While waiting to turn right with the turn signal turned on at an intersection, the system alerts the driver with visual cues and a buzzer sound in situations like when the brake pedal is released and the car is starting to move forward even though there is opposing traffic or pedestrians in the way.
When approaching an intersection and the driver does not ease off the accelerator despite a red light ahead, a warning is given with visual cues and a buzzer sound.
When stopped at a red light, the system displays the estimated time until the light changes to green.
When a stop at a red light is expected ahead, the “eco-accelerator guide” gauge of the HV system indicator is reset to zero to stop the driver from continuing to accelerate for no reason.
(V2V) Communication
When one vehicle is following another that can be controlled with communicating radar cruise control, the following vehicle gets acceleration and deceleration information about the leading vehicle by means of V2V communication. That enables it to maintain a safe distance and minimize speed fluctuations accordingly, which makes traffic flow smoother. This will allow for virtually connected convoy driving.
When an emergency vehicle (ambulance) is approaching with its siren activated, a buzzer sounds and the rough distance, direction, and orientation the vehicle is proceeding in relative to the driver’s car are displayed (emergency vehicles operating around Nagoya are equipped with compatible transmitters).
When making stops like at an intersection, the system detects the approach of other vehicles equipped with transmitters, it roughly indicates the direction they are traveling in (the system works only after the vehicle has come to a complete stop).
Source: Toyota press release 2014.11.26/2015.9.30
(Notes) 1. The system works only at intersections and traffic lights fitted with compatible DSSS roadside devices. These are referred to by Toyota as next-generation DSSS or next-generation ITS.
2. In November 2012, Toyota established an ITS proving ground at its Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono City, Shizuoka Pref. The Center does R&D for next-generation infrastructure cooperative safe driving assist systems aimed at preventing accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians at intersections with poor visibility through V2V, P2V, and I2V communication.


ITS Connect transmits constantly-changing information in real time

 ITS Connect as presently implemented by Toyota is capable of transmitting constantly-changing information about oncoming vehicles and pedestrians in real time, which positions it as a “next-generation ITS” that is more advanced than ITS spot services or DSSS.

 The following is a summary of particular characteristics of ITS Connect and straightforward situations where they are demonstrated.

Particular characteristics of ITS Connect and straightforward situations where they are demonstrated

Supports autonomous safety systems  ITS Connect prevents accidents that autonomous driving systems cannot fully handle. For example, data indicates that nearly half of accidents that result in personal injury or death are in situations where autonomous driving systems alone have difficulty responding; including situations like collisions with pedestrians, head-on collisions, vehicles running into each other when one is driving straight and the other is turning right, or accidents during left turns. (Autonomous systems deal with accidents such as rear-end or head-on collisions.)
Real time information transmission  ITS Connect offers real-time transmission of constantly-changing information (oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, etc.). For example, with conventional radar cruise control, there are delays between the speed change of a vehicle and those that are following it, but with Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (C-ACC), vehicles accelerate or decelerate at nearly the same time during convoy driving.

Source: Chubu IT Fusion Seminar: “Toyota’s ITS initiative and future vision” October 20, 2015

ITS initiatives in Japan shift from easing road congestion to safety and a sense of security

 Toyota is positioning the recently introduced ITS Connect as version further enhancement to the continued progress of ITS (Intelligent Transport System), which has gone on for around 20 years.

 VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System), launched in 1996, is a system for easing road congestion. ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System), which was launched in 2001, reduced queues at toll gates.

 ITS Spot (primarily for highways) and DSSS (primarily for public roads), which were launched in 2009 and 2011 respectively, are safety-oriented cooperative ITS systems that use information from traffic signals and roadside sensors. Toyota is labeling its recently launched ITS Connect as a 760MHz “next-generation ITS” that offers a greater level of safety and peace of mind.

ITS services in commercial application in Japan 

VICS  VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System) was introduced in 1996. It provides traffic information up to a range of 30 kilometers ahead by means of optical beacons installed alongside major roads. It also uses radio-wave beacons installed along highways to provide traffic information for up to around 200 kilometers ahead.
ETC  ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System) was introduced in 2001. It drastically reduced congestion at toll gates and is used by 90 percent of vehicles that drive on highways. ETC uses 5.8GHz DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication).
ITS Spot  ITS Spot is managed by the Ministry of Land、Infrastructure and Transport, and started operations from 2009. It offers high-speed, large capacity transmissions between "ITS Spots" installed on highways and compatible car navigation systems through which provides "alerts for traffic merging from the left," "images that show the status of the road ahead (snow, etc.)," "traffic congestion information," and more. It transmits at the same 5.8GHz bandwidth as ETC.
DSSS  DSSS is an infrastructure cooperative driving safety support service operated by the National Police Agency that was initialized in July 2011 and is primarily installed on public roads. The onboard car navigation system receives road condition and traffic control information (traffic signals, signs, etc.) detected by roadside sensors and transmitted by optical beacons, and the driver is provided with audio and visual information to ensure safe driving according to factors like the vehicle’s travel speed and accelerator position. The system was mainly developed with the goal of preventing traffic accidents resulting from a delay in the driver recognizing and judging potential risks.

Source: IT Strategic Headquarters of Prime Minister’s Cabinet, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, Toyota, etc.
(Note) ITS Spot services and DSSS are referred to as cooperative ITS. The Toyota developed ITS Connect is referred to as “next-generation ITS” as it combines conventional DSSS features with 760MHz communication capabilities.

ITS Connect technology paving the way to autonomous driving

Image of Toyota’s safety system deployment
Image of Toyota’s safety system deployment
(Created by MarkLines based on Toyota publication)

 In 2017, Toyota will introduce “head-on collision prevention” at intersections with poor visibility through V2V communication, and “vulnerable road user advisories” by means of P2V communication as the second phase of ITS Connect.

 Toyota will continue to develop ITS Connect as an essential part of driving intelligence that supplement Toyota Safety Sense and other autonomous driving safety systems.

New ITS technologies being developed by Toyota

Head-on collision prevention  Vehicles communicate with one another to encourage awareness by alerting drivers to approaching vehicles and prevent accidents in areas like intersections with poor visibility.
Vulnerable road user advisory  Transmitters carried by pedestrians and vehicles communicate to notify drivers of “vulnerable road users” (children, elderly people, etc.) and encourage awareness.
Smoother traffic at sag vertical curves on highways  A sag vertical curve is a bowl-shaped geographic feature where a downhill slope approaches an uphill slope. Since the speed of the vehicle drops before the driver realizes what has happened, around 60% of highway traffic jams in Japan occur at sag vertical curves. Road congestion can be mitigated through the use of Adaptive Cruise Control and Cooperative ACC together with information broadcasts from transceivers like ITS Spot to prompt smoother acceleration.


Examples of ITS Connect use in autonomous driving

Merging on highways  The system checks road structures, lane profiles, and other areas, and uses I2V and V2V communication to gain information about road conditions, and positions and speeds of vehicles on the highway, which cannot be fully captured by autonomous system sensors. The information is used to predict the position and speed for merging.
Merging and lane change (utilizing transmission)  Vehicles that are merging notify vehicles in through traffic on highways, and vehicles traveling forward send an OK signal and maintain safe distances accordingly. The vehicle that is merging or changing lanes confirms that the situation is safe using autonomous system sensors, performs the maneuvering operation, and signals to the other vehicles after successful completion.

 Source: Chubu IT Fusion Seminar: “Toyota’s ITS initiative and future vision” October 20, 2015

Daimler introduces Car-to-X communication, Honda develops Wi-Fi V2X communication

Car-to-X communication
Image of “Car-to-X communication” available on Mercedes-Benz E-Class
(Source: Daimler)

 Daimler’s Car-to-X communication is available on the all-new S-Class launched in 2013 and the E-Class launched in February 2016. A smart phone in the car communicates with the smart phones in other cars (even cars not made by Mercedes-Benz) to warn the driver of potential dangers before they are seen.

 The 2013 system uses Drive Kit Plus to connect the smart phone and the car. The new system was introduced in 2016 and is connected directly to onboard software.

 Daimler initially developed a smart phone-based system that allowed for early introduction in the market. The company is now developing a Car-to-X communication system based on V2V communication and plans to make both systems available for use.

 While Toyota’s ITS Connect provides precise control at intersections transceivers are installed in, among other features, the Daimler system is different in that it sends information about cars that have broken down and are not clearly visible on the road, sudden strong rain, frozen road surfaces, and other such information.

 Honda has set up a system where vehicles communicate with other vehicles and pedestrians who have a special smart phone application with Wi-Fi. The company reportedly plans to practically apply the new technology in 2020.

 In addition to systems based on V2V communication, Volvo has made the world-first “intersection support” (left- or right-turn risk prevention) system available on the all-new XC90 that was released for sale in Japan in January 2016. The system uses millimeter-wave radars and cameras to predict the risks of collision when making a right turn at intersections. In the event of an impending crash, the system automatically applies the brakes to avoid it.

Car-to-X communication on Mercedes-Benz S-Class/E-Class

S-Class  The S-Class launched in 2013 is equipped with the Car-to-X communication system, which Daimler says is the first of its kind. The system provides communication between smart phones in cars.
 Drivers are warned of the presence of other cars in blind corners or objects behind obstacles so that they can take appropriate actions in time. The system handles situations like a broken-down car being parked on the roadside, or imminent heavy rains, and the car it is equipped in acts a receiver and a broadcaster. Daimler is considering coordination with signals and other roadside infrastructure in the future.
 Car-to-X communication requires Drive Kit Plus and the downloadable Digital DriveStyle application to connect the customer’s smart phone to the onboard architecture. Drive Kit Plus can be fitted in vehicles of almost any brand or model, new or owned, to connect with Car-to-X Communication.
E-Class  The all-new E-Class (launched in Europe in February 2016 and in the United States in the summer of 2016) became the world-first production car with Car-to-X communication integrated into the onboard system. It represents an evolution from the earlier system in S-Class by integrating the smart phone connection system into the onboard software.



Honda: Wi-Fi real-time V2X communication system

 Honda has developed V2X Unit, a high-performance onboard Wi-Fi communication system that was displayed at the 6th Automotive Telecommunication Technology Tokyo in March 2015. The system implements technology that connects vehicles with other vehicles, infrastructure, and pedestrians who have a dedicated smart phone application through Wi-Fi.
 Among the various projected uses, some examples include oncoming cars sending warnings for traffic that can't be seen around sharp curves, smooth traffic flow realized by vehicles communicating left and right turns to each other, and pedestrians notifying cars in the surrounding area when they want to cross the street so they can do so with peace of mind.
 In the event of a natural disaster, even when public communication lines like mobile networks are down, the system will enable users to connect with one another through Wi-Fi communication and get evacuation announcements and other important information.

Source: Honda press release 2015.3.10

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