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Autonomous Driving and Telematics will Transform the Automotive Industry

Study Idea

2016.08.01

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Autonomous Driving Test Vehicle Equipped with Millimeter-Wave Radar, LiDAR, and Camera

  • Automakers have reached a significant turning point in the context of the Japanese government’s high hopes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This article explores the current keywords toward transforming the car society and the context surrounding this change.

The advent of Google Car utterly changed the way we understand cars

Telematics like car navigation and GPS used to be nothing more than a convenient service for enhancing user experience in traditional cars where basic functions such as accelerating, turning, and stopping is most critical. However, IT giants like Apple and Google have set out to gather big data through telematics, and Google even aims to realize a completely driverless autonomous car.

While there is much hype around autonomous driving right now, it is often confused with unmanned driving. While in autonomous driving, a driver may switche the operation method by pressing a designated button or by other means, but in unmanned driving, a driver is not required whatsoever, so the two have completely different implications. Experimental tests are currently being conducted within feasible scope based on the premise of transitioning to autonomous driving in the future.

In October 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation released the Highway Teammate, an autonomous driving test vehicle. Highway Teammate’s demonstrative drive took place on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway with a series of automated functions, including merging onto or exiting the highway, maintaining or changing lanes, diverting, and passing other cars. In addition to referencing map information to understand its own position, Highway Teammate formulates its own driving line and target speed prior to automatically operating the handle, gas, and brakes. Toyota is currently developing the autonomous driving vehicle aiming for practical implementation by 2020.

ITS technology and telematics service

Toyota's autonomous driving technology features ITS Connect. ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) is a research field that studies the integration of communication and transportation, and Toyota has the leading position in the industry. Toyota also offers a telematics service called T-Connect. In April 2016, when the Kumamoto Earthquake struck, Toyota adjusted the setting for the launching page of its Passable Road Map--a service that they had offered from the past--to reflect the vicinity of disaster-stricken area. Through this service, Toyota displayed information of routes that were actually passed by cars in the past 24 hours on a map and updated the information every hour. Passable Road Map showed a specific image of how telematics services can be used in the future.

Fierce competition for market share of connected car and on-board OS

“Connected car” is a term used to express the communication function of cars. It is called "connected" because it can connect with the outside world, and it can be divided broadly into two types. The first type consists of ITS-related services such as electronic toll collection (ETC), vehicle information communication system (VICS), and adaptive cruise control (ACC). The other type consists of services focusing on infotainment such as music, video, and SNS. Apple and Google have made full-entries into this market one after the other. Meanwhile, Toyota is taking a unique approach again in terms of connected cars. They announced a major project to build an original on-board OS called Automotive Grande Linux (AGL) in cooperation with The Linux Foundation. AGL calls automakers to develop an ideal on-board OS for connected cars based on an open-source Linux system.

Investments in AI and ride-sharing service Uber

There were many reports of Toyota's flurry of investments in artificial intelligence (AI) businesses starting from the end of 2015. AI is expected to function as the “eyes” of autonomous driving. Accidents can be significantly reduced by obtaining information from sensors and predicting what will happen next.

In May 2016, Toyota announced that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in the area of ride sharing with the world’s largest ride sharing service, Uber. Uber had announced last autumn that they plan to research and develop autonomous driving technologies on its own and, in May 2016, they conducted a driving test on a public road in Pittsburgh. Going forward, the speed of evolution of automakers and the services surrounding autonomous driving will without a doubt accelerate even further.

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