Toyota is planning to roll out vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems on its new models as early as next year as a high-tech way of cutting congestion and collisions.
If a car is able to ‘talk' to road infrastructure, it knows how many seconds or minutes remain before a set of traffic lights change from red to green, for instance -- so the car can match its speed accordingly -- but can also learn how heavy the flow of traffic is and if something is approaching along a road that is obscured from view.
Toyota's system will connect to the Integrated Traffic System (ITS) services used by governments for monitoring traffic flows and other data and so will be able to access above-road sensors that measure traffic density or whether vehicles are approaching junctions.
The system will add to cars' existing radar and camera capabilities for collision avoidance -- even the best cameras can't see around bends -- as will the ability for cars to communicate directly with each other.
Toyota is not the only company racing to add this feature to its range -- every major manufacturer is also developing the technology for their future models and it's easy to understand why. If cars can alert other vehicles of their presence, then there are no blind spots when driving, there is little risk of pulling out of a junction and into the path of an oncoming van, and congestion can be reduced and even eliminated altogether by rerouting journeys or slowing cars down.
The new features are expected to appear on new Toyotas sold in Japan initially but will roll out to new cars sold in the US and Europe by 2017.