Toyota to test use of connected cars for road maintenance inspections in its home city

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The Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is partnering with the authorities in its home city, Toyota, to start Japan’s first verification testing for road maintenance inspections using vehicle data obtained from connected cars.

Beginning on August 1, the verification testing will enable assessment of whether the degree of road deterioration index values computed from the connected car’s behavior data and actual road conditions are consistent, and validate these findings on more typical regional roads. Toyota also aims to further advance its technology to more accurately support administrative services that implement road maintenance and inspection work in Toyota City.

The roles of each party participating in the verification testing will be:

• Toyota City: in addition to providing road surface information collected through routine inspections and road patrols, city authorities will carry out discussions on the feasibility of applying this technology to road maintenance inspection work;

• Toyota Motor Corporation: the auto maker will extract vehicle data (traffic information probe data and vehicle behavior data) obtained by connected cars, before performing big data analysis with its proprietary Mobility Service Platform (MSPF). In addition to providing road deterioration information, Toyota will analyze the data’s correlation to actual conditions.

Understanding real-world road conditions will aid the city authorities with day-to-day highway maintenance work that helps to prevent accidents, as well as improving safety by helping secure evacuation routes in the event of a disaster. Toyota currently offers a Passable Route Map that provides real-time information on safe routes during disasters in Japan using data analytics based on telematics-equipped vehicles. With the forthcoming verification testing, Toyota aims to continue developing technology that analyzes vehicle behavior information, to succeed in digitizing the monitoring of road surface deterioration, and further the development in practical uses of this technology. Moving forward, Toyota will continue developing town and road technology using connected cars, to actively support the work of local governments.

Toyota has also just released a new easy-to-use map showing real-time traffic information and road closures in Japan using data gathered from its connected cars. The live road data is based on the company’s T-Connect/G-Book telematics service information from communications module-equipped car navigation systems in Toyota-made vehicles. The information is available to all road users, irrespective of car brand, and the online map is accessible from smartphones, computers, or other internet connected devices. Road closures, road sign icons, and other facilities are also displayed in real time. Users can check data from the past one, three, six or 24 hours, and can narrow searches down to include, for example, areas of heavy traffic for daily route planning.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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