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Toyota & Lexus to Launch Tech to Connect Vehicles and Infrastructure in the U.S. in 2021

Author: Eric Walz   

PLANO, Texas — In the future, vehicles will be able to communicate with other vehicles, as well as with infrastructure, including traffic signals, using a dedicated communications channel, potentially making the roads much safer. For automakers, the hardware and software that makes communication between vehicles and roadway infrastructure possible is an important part of in the development of autonomous, connected vehicles, and Toyota and Lexus are taking the lead.

Toyota and Lexus have announced plans to start deployment of Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) systems on vehicles sold in the United States starting in 2021, with the goal of adoption across most of its lineup by the mid-2020s. DSRC represent a significant step forward in creating a safer and more efficient driving ecosystem while advancing connected and automated technology deployment.

DSRC Communications

DSRC communications enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications – collectively known as V2X. DSRC technology, which has been comprehensively tested through industry collaborations and is already deployed in some areas of the U.S. The technology supports the broadcast of precise anonymized vehicle information several times per second, including location, speed and acceleration.

DSRC communications use 7 channels of the 5.9 GHz spectrum band allocated for Intelligent Transportation Systems. The technology does not require a cellular or data network, vehicles equipped with DSRC do not incur any cellular network carrier charges.

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V2V and V2I applications utilizing DSRC have the potential to significantly reduce most types of crashes through real-time advisories on road conditions, traffic congestion, accidents, construction zones and even parking availability, alerting drivers to road conditions that may be difficult to see. This information can be used by other DSRC-enabled vehicles and devices to help drivers prevent collisions and improve traffic flow.

Convenience V2I services including parking and toll payment are also able to communicate using DSRC. Anonymous information from sensors in vehicles and devices can also be transmitted over DSRC to provide better traffic and travel condition information to travelers and city transportation managers.

In addition, DSRC is based on a industry standard communications protocol, so Toyota vehicles will be able to communicate with vehicles made by other automakers. Communication technologies can be coupled with on-board sensor technology to help make automated vehicle systems safer and more reliable.

"By allowing vehicles' intelligent systems to collaborate more broadly and effectively through DSRC technology, we can help drivers realize a future with zero fatalities from crashes, better traffic flow and less congestion," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America (TMNA).

"Three years ago, we pledged to have automatic emergency braking (AEB) in almost every vehicle we sell by the end of 2017. Today, 92 percent of all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. have Toyota Safety Sense or Lexus Safety System with AEB standard, and other automakers' deployment of this life-saving technology is accelerating, three years ahead of the 2022 industry target.  In that same spirit, we believe that greater DSRC adoption by all automakers will not only help drivers get to their destinations more safely and efficiently, but also help lay the foundation for future connected and automated driving systems."

Looking ahead, communication-based technologies such as DSRC can help provide greater benefits to drivers as automakers increasingly equip their vehicles with additional sensors, including radar and cameras.

Toyota and Lexus became the world's first automaker to sell and commercialize vehicles equipped with DSRC back in 2015. This technology provides drivers with useful and detailed surrounding vehicle and traffic signal information. As of March 2018, more than 100,000 DSRC-equipped Toyota and Lexus vehicles were on the road in Japan.   

In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Federal Highway Administration V2I guidance aimed at improving safety and mobility by accelerating the deployment of V2I communication systems. The guidance is aimed at helping state and local governments prepare to accommodate vehicle to infrastructure initiatives and manage the data that supports it.

Over the past 13 years, Toyota has collaborated with other automakers, infrastructure organizations and the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop DSRC V2X communication technologies.  

Toyota is now encouraging all automakers to quickly commit to DSRC technologies in the U.S. to realize the full safety and traffic flow benefits of this technology.

Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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