On the heels of last week’s announcement that Toyota is putting more boots on the ground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to study fully autonomous driving and advanced mobility, Toyota says it also will be deploying cars on the road for real world testing. In partnership with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Toyota is transforming the streets of Ann Arbor into the world’s largest operational, real-world deployment of connected vehicles and infrastructure.
Connected vehicle safety technology allows vehicles to communicate wirelessly with other similarly equipped vehicles, and to communicate wirelessly with portions of the infrastructure – such as traffic signals. The Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE) is a real-world implementation of connected vehicle safety technologies being used by everyday drivers in Ann Arbor and around Southeast Michigan. AACVTE will build on existing model deployment in Ann Arbor, including an upgraded and expanded test environment, making it the standard for a nationwide implementation.
This research will elevate UMTRI and U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) real-world exploration of connected vehicle technology. According to the automaker, the current limitation of connected vehicle testing outside of a closed circuit test tracks is the lack of connected vehicles. In order to move autonomous driving toward reality, testing requires more cars, more drivers and more day-to-day miles travelled than any combination of research facilities could support, Toyota says. The AACVTE aims to solve this problem.
Ann Arbor is already the largest Dedicated Short Range Communication test bed in the world, and the Michigan State government is very active in expanding deployment throughout the state.
As part of its partnership agreement with UMTRI, Toyota will invite team members and their families to participate in the AACVTE initiative. The Toyota participants will allow their vehicles to be equipped with devices to support accelerated research and deployment of advanced Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V)/Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) systems in the region. The goal is to deploy 5,000 vehicles with vehicle awareness devices throughout the Ann Arbor area.
The vehicle awareness device to be installed on participating vehicles is a small box, hidden out of sight in the vehicle’s trunk or rear area, with two small antennas – one on or near the rear windshield and another either on the trunk lid or the vehicle’s roof.
The device continuously transmits speed and position data from the participating vehicle to other, similarly equipped vehicles, as well as into the surrounding environment where this information can be recognized by research equipment located along the roadside and at intersections. The information transmission in this study occurs during the participant’s usual everyday driving.
While the data broadcast by the vehicles does include a unique identifier, the data gathered in this experiment will be treated confidentially, Toyota says. The results of this study will provide UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation with valuable information for the development of future V2V/V2I communication-based driver assistance and safety systems for passenger vehicles.