New initiatives need guinea pigs to help develop them, and Toyota‘s employees and their families will join the company effort to begin testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area.
In cooperation with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Toyota says that they will transform the Ann Arbor area into the world’s largest laboratory for the testing and development of operational V2V and V2I connected vehicles.
This announcement comes on the heels of Toyota expressing interest in partnering with the computer giant Apple to develop a prototype self-driving automobile.
V2V and V2I technology is key to the development of driverless vehicles, because they’re not hindered by obstacles in the vehicle’s path. Laser, radar, and camera equipped systems that accompany the current autonomous technologies are limited by their design, because they cannot transmit and receive signals through obstacles and geographic irregularities.
V2V and V2I devices are dedicated and short-range-radio frequency based and will allow vehicles to effectively communicate with one another and the infrastructure. The radio frequencies are not hampered by buildings, hills, or other vehicles and should provide more reliable service as they pertain to self-driving (and connected) vehicle technology.
Since the chief criticism of self-driving vehicles to date has been a lack of research and real-world testing, this influx of technology combined with more drivers and more everyday trips, should help to bring the reality of mass produced driverless automobiles closer.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have both expressed interest in expediting the implementation of self-driving technology into as many vehicles as possible, as soon as possible.
The state of Michigan works to attract these types of developmental projects. In fact, Ann Arbor is already the largest dedicated short range communication site on the planet. Toyota plans to expand on the current platform by allowing team members and their families to participate in the new initiative. Approximately 5,000 vehicles are expected to be added to the program almost immediately, with 1,500 units added annually.
The program participants will allow their vehicles to be equipped with the V2V devices, and they will go about their regular driving routines. The V2V devices will resemble a small box and will be tucked away in the vehicle’s cargo area. Two small antennas will also be attached to the exterior of the vehicle; one near the trunk lid and one on the roof, near the front windshield.
The devices will constantly transmit speed and vehicle position data from the vehicle to other participating vehicles and to specifically placed research equipment along the roadside.
Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide.com local search here.