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Toyota partners with University of Michigan to expand real-world test of connected vehicles

ABR Staff Writer Published 14 April 2016

Toyota has partnered with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) to study fully autonomous driving and advanced mobility technology that is being tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Toyota map

The automaker plans to deploy 5,000 vehicles over the next few years in Ann Arbor, where the world's largest real-world test of connected cars and infrastructure is being conducted.

The initiative named as the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE) is aimed to study the pros and cons of the connected vehicle safety technology that enables vehicles to communicate wirelessly with other similarly equipped vehicles.

The program will also research the wireless communication between the vehicles and the infrastructure such as traffic signals.

UMTRI director James R. Sayer said: "Ann Arbor is an international hub for connected vehicle technology and research, and it has everything to do with the community.

"Toyota is again demonstrating their commitment to the community by their investment in the recently announced TRI, and by encouraging employees to participate in cutting edge research."

As part of the partnership, Toyota will offer its employees an option to equip their vehicles with devices to support accelerated research and deployment of advanced Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V)/Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) systems in the region.

The device allows continuous flow of speed and position data to other similarly equipped vehicles, besides providing information on the surrounding environment.

The valuable information collected from the study will help UMTRI and the US Department of Transportation in the development of future V2V/V2I communication-based driver assistance and safety systems for passenger vehicles.

Toyota Technical Center vice president Wayne Powell said: "We are thrilled to help UMTRI expand vehicle-to-vehicle testing well beyond the test track and on to the streets of Ann Arbor."

In 2012, UMTRI and the USDOT launched a $30m connected vehicle research project named as Safety Pilot Model Deployment (SPMD) in northeast Ann Arbor. The project included 3,000 vehicles.

UMTRI and its partners plan to expand the program to the entire City of Ann Arbor, adding 1,500 vehicles a year.

Image: Toyota is developing a high-precision map generation system for automated driving: Photo courtesy of Toyota.