Mazda to Test New Intelligent Transport System

by : Kraig Johanssen

In its continuous efforts to promote improved road safety, Mazda Motor Corporation has recently announced its plans to participate in public road trials in the Hiroshima area to help validate a new Intelligent Transport System (ITS) scheduled to start in fall 2007.

Intelligent Transport Systems use the latest in high-tech telecommunications to create an information network encompassing people, roads and vehicles, the goal of which is to work toward solutions for transport problems including road accidents, congestion and damage to the environment.

To help validate these tests Mazda, maker of top of the line , is set to develop an in-car navigation system that supports the ITS as well as supply several dozen test vehicles from which data will be collected and analyzed. The automaker is also developing a safe driving support system - reportedly an arrangement of cameras and sensors placed along roads that will transmit information to drivers - to be compatible with the ITS infrastructure.

The Hiroshima area has many road environments that make it conducive for a wide range of test conditions for the verification trials, including numerous bridges over the many rivers (including those which have dangerous blind summits); roads that accommodate both trams and motor vehicles, which have complicated traffic dynamics; and lowlands and mountain regions situated close together, which can create unexpected variations in weather and road surface conditions.

The equipment to be tested includes:

  1. A system to identify the extent of road congestion.

  2. A warning system to prevent speeding.

  3. A system to prevent rear-end collisions at traffic signals.

  4. A head-on collision prevention support system.

  5. A right-turn collision prevention support system (identifies approaching trams, oncoming traffic and pedestrians crossing the street).

  6. An in-transit information system.

The safe driving support system technology that will be tested collects information from the ITS infrastructure and from vehicles (vehicle condition, driver operation) to monitor local traffic flows and individual driver responses. The information collected will then be used to identify potentially dangerous situations and determine whether a warning or an alarm should be triggered. This is a breakthrough in terms of functionality compared to previous ITS systems that merely provided information to drivers.

Mazda aims to use the trials to establish usable ITS technologies which can be introduced in the near future to reduce the number of traffic accidents and lessen the impact of transportation on the environment.

Along with Mazda, are Hiroshima's local government, academia and industry which all will take part in the public road tests as part of a consortium formed during last year's Hiroshima Conference on ITS Validation on Public Roads.