23 July 2019
Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, talks about developing cars that can communicate with one another. Photo: Reuters
Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, talks about developing cars that can communicate with one another. Photo: Reuters

Toyota targets cars that ‘talk’ to each other by 2021

Toyota Motor plans to start selling vehicles that can “talk” to each other in 2021 in a bid to make road travel safer, Bloomberg reports.

Andrew Coetzee, Toyota’s group vice president of product planning for North America, said short-range wireless communications chips will be put in Toyota and Lexus models in the United States in three years, although the goal is to adopt the technology across most its models by the mid-2020s.

“By allowing vehicles’ intelligent systems to collaborate more broadly and effectively through DSRC technology, we can help drivers realize a future with zero fatalities from crashes, better traffic flow, and less congestion,” Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, said in a press release.

“We believe that greater DSRC adoption by all automakers will not only help drivers get to their destinations more safely and efficiently, but also help lay the foundation for future connected and automated driving systems,” Lentz said.

The dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) system will enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.

The technology sends information back and forth from a car to another vehicle or infrastructure  several times a second.

It will allow Toyota’s vehicles to transmit data regarding their location and speed to surrounding vehicles and roadside infrastructure to avoid collisions.

The communication system will also enable the transmission of real-time information to drivers, such as potential hazards, slow or non-moving vehicles ahead, signals, signs, and road conditions that may be difficult to see.

According to Reuters, communications systems between vehicles have been tested by US carmakers for over a decade now. But until 2017, it was only available in General Motors’ Cadillac CTS model.

Toyota and Lexus became the world’s first brands to use the technology in Japan, and it has been deployed in more than 100,000 vehicles since 2015.

In December 2016, the US Transportation Department released a proposal for V2V communications, setting the requirements for the deployment of the technology. The Obama administration proposed giving automakers at least four years to comply.

Under the proposal, automakers should ensure that all vehicles “speak the same language through a standard technology”, Reuters said.

Last year the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that the regulation could eventually cost between US$135 and US$300 per new vehicle, or up to US$5 billion annually.

But it could prevent up to 600,000 crashes and reduce costs by US$71 billion annually when fully deployed, the report said.

However, the push for V2V communications has stalled under the Trump administration.

In November, major automakers such as Toyota and General Motors urged US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to support a “talking cars” mandate for all new passenger vehicles by 2023.

By announcing its plans, Toyota hopes the rest of the auto industry will follow suit and embrace the technology.

“We need to make a technology choice when there’s no regulatory requirement in place,” said John Kenney, director of networking research at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in California.

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