Toyota to trial taxi-sourced lane-specific traffic congestion information

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Toyota is planning to start a trial next year of a service that provides taxi-sourced lane-specific traffic-congestion information to its TC Smartphone Navigation app.

Since April this year, Toyota has been conducting ongoing verification testing of lane-specific traffic-congestion information system in partnership with the Tokyo branch of the Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations (THAT). The information is being generated by analyzing driving video and vehicle data collected from Toyota’s TransLog driving recorder and data-transmission telematics device installed on 500 taxis operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Toyota has been providing services such as airbag-deployment emergency notification, automatic navigational map-data updating and operator services, using its data communications module (DCM), which became standard on Lexus-brand vehicles and optional on Toyota-brand vehicles in 2005.

Using driving data collected from DCMs, the auto maker has also been providing information to its ‘T-Probe’ big-data traffic condition service since 2011, which is currently available through original-equipment navigation systems and through the company’s own-brand TC Smartphone Navigation app.

The lane-specific traffic-congestion information Toyota plans to provide, complementing its DCM-enabled services, is generated by AI-facilitated analysis of driving image data collected from the TransLog telematics units. Whereas conventional traffic-congestion information only informed drivers of traffic conditions for segments of roadway, the newly developed system better supports drivers by providing information on traffic conditions by lane, with this information confirmable through on-screen images. When nearing a roadway point for which information is available, the system displays congested lanes in a different color and simultaneously provides voice notification. Tapping on the display of congested lane prompts a pop-up photograph.

Due to start in the spring of 2018, the lane-specific traffic-congestion information trial service will only cover traffic conditions in the Tokyo metropolitan area and will just be accessible through the TC Smartphone Navigation app. However, based on usage, user ratings and various technical evaluations, Toyota plans to consider expanding the areas covered and the types of devices through which the service can be accessed. From driving video data acquired through taxis, Toyota also expects to be able to obtain information on road construction and traffic accidents or roadway obstacles, as well as on parking-space vacancies and the degree of congestion around various retail outlets or events.

Toyota plans to advance its development of new traffic information services based on real-time extraction of key elements from this live data stream, and with the Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations, intends to pursue possibilities for the country’s next-generation of taxis.

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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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