Ever seen the movie Christine based off of the best-selling Stephen King novel? Toyota is now making us think that sentient vehicles are the norm, as it is now testing intelligent cars that can stop and go to avoid accidents, park themselves independently or distance themselves from pedestrians to ensure their safety. It’s no longer a far-fetched idea as depicted on the big-screen, but a reality.
Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. has just completed a Japan-based Intelligent Transport System facility the size of three baseball stadiums to test its car safety on the road. The new system impressively allows vehicles to communicate with each other and with the roads they are being driven on. The 3.5 hectare test site looks much like the artificial roads at driving schools, except that it is much, much bigger.
According to the Associated Press, to minimize the risk of accidents in situations such as missing red lights, cars advancing from blind spots and pedestrians crossing, the Intelligent Transport System site receives information from sensors and transmitters installed on the streets. In addition, the system also tests cars that transmit such information to others on the road.
AP reporter Yuri Kageyama wrote that on Monday, in a test drive for reporters, the presence of a pedestrian triggered a beeping sound in the car with a picture of a person popping up on a screen in front of the driver. Likewise, when the driver was about to ignore a red light, an electronic female voice promptly signaled, "It's a red light,” while a picture of an arrow came on the screen to indicate an approaching car at an intersection.
Toyota officials said its smart-car technology will be further tested on some Japanese roads starting in 2014. Similar tests are planned for the U.S., although details were not provided. Toyota believes that the Intelligent Transportation System technology will be effective because half of car accidents happen at intersections.
Talking to reporters, Toyota’s managing officer Moritaka Yoshida said, “Toyota sees preventing collisions, watching out for pedestrians and helping the driving of the elderly as key to ensuring safety in the cars of the future…we offer the world's top-level technology.”
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo