Toyota builds town to test safety systems
Proving ground simulates public roads to facilitate real-world testing.
If you’re an automaker and you want to test vehicle safety systems in a real-world setting, you have two options: do it on public roads on a very restricted basis or build your own “city” that simulates public roads. Autoliv, a Swedish supplier and inventor of the seat belt, constructed its own “ghost town” to test safety technology. German automotive supplier Continental also has a facility that simulates urban and rural settings.
Earlier this week, Toyota began operations at its new test site, called the Intelligent Transport System Proving Ground. The 8.6-acre facility in Susono City, Japan, mimics an urban environment with “faithfully replicated roads and traffic signals” and will allow Toyota to test active safety features “that can be difficult to perform on public roads with changing road environments,” the company said in a statement.
Like Continental’s Safety Park Alzenau and Autoliv’s Vårgårda facility, the main objective of Toyota’s ITS Proving Ground is to help reduce traffic accidents through connected-car technology.
The proving ground is equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems that include vehicle and pedestrian detection and traffic-signal control devices. By tying together road users and traffic infrastructure, these systems can communicate with vehicles and pedestrians to warn them of hazards at intersections and other locations with poor visibility.
Toyota said that research and development at the proving ground will focus on “next-generation vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems” designed to prevent accidents involving pedestrians and other vehicles through V2V, V2I and even pedestrian-to-vehicle communication. (General Motors also showed a form of pedestrian-to-vehicle communication, whereby cars could alert smartphones, earlier this year).
Toyota said that tests at the proving ground would accelerate R&D not only into advanced safety systems, but also into testing “environmental systems” to improve fuel efficiency. If cars can talk to infrastructure, for example, they'll know to slow down for an upcoming red light and save fuel.
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