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Image: UMTRI

Toyota’s North America R&D team members are being invited to connect up their cars to the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE), led by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The AACVTE is trialling the latest wireless DSRC 5.9GHz V2X system and is asking over 1800 Toyota employees plus their families in Washtenaw County to participate in the program.

Toyota and Lexus intend to deploy DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communications) in US-market vehicles from 2021. Wayne Powell, VP for electronics systems at Toyota North America, said in a statement: “We believe this represents a significant step forward in creating a safer and more efficient driving ecosystem, while advancing connected and automated technology.”

UMTRI describes its Ann Arbor operations as the world's largest real-world deployment for connected cars, and as “a significant living laboratory”. Director James R. Sayer said: “Ann Arbor is an international hub for connected vehicle technology and research and it has everything to do with the community. This deployment allows us to gather data critical to advancing transportation safety. A fully operational deployment enables UMTRI to conduct $3-5million in research a year.”

Over 1000 vehicles are already connected in a V2V program at AACVTE. For the new trial, UMTRI is proposing a choice of two systems to drivers: a vehicle awareness device, transmitting speed and GPS location 10 times per second, which communicates with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure; and an aftermarket safety device (ASD) which both transmits speed and location, and picks up warnings from other vehicles so-equipped.

UMTRI announced earlier this month that it is also to join the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and other partners in a five-year research project for the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). This will look into collision avoidance technologies for autonomous vehicles, with a focus on human reaction, interaction and human factors.

-Farah Alkhalisi