Honda traffic signal information systemEnlarge Photo
Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology will be a major factor in future autonomous driving systems, and several manufacturers have undertaken tests to get a handle on the technology. The latest to trial such systems is Honda, which is set to begin public road trials in Utsunomiya City, in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan. Honda is one of several companies participating a trial known as Universal Traffic Management Systems, which will eventually provide feedback on car-to-car and infrastructure systems before they go into practical use.
As with other recent systems, one of the main functions is to pass traffic signal information between cars, feeding this back to the vehicle and the driver for more efficient travel through city environments. Using vehicle positioning and speed, as well as information on the next cycle of lights, a message can be sent to the driver suggesting the ideal speed to maintain to hit the next green light. If a red light is likely to show before the driver reaches an intersection, the system can advise the driver to slow down, conserving energy rather than having to brake at the last minute.
Like systems being tested by Audi, an indication can also be shown when the driver is waiting at a light, notifying them of when it will turn green. The driver can then be ready to pull away again before the light changes. The aim is to prevent unnecessary acceleration and deceleration--using extra fuel for little reason--and minimizing disrupted traffic flow in busy cities.
Honda's test will comprise five routes in the test city and as many as 100 vehicles. Honda has established that these routes are frequently used by commuters, providing realistic feedback on whether the car-to-infrastructure technology can make a real-world difference. By analyzing vehicle data, it'll also show whether any fuel or carbon dioxide savings result--a way of improving fuel consumption without any physical changes to the car.