Nº 1 2014 > Intelligent transport systems

World congresses seek transport safety, security and efficiency

Contributed by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Welcome address by ITS Japan Chairman Hiroyuki WatanabeThe Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications booth
Welcome address by ITS Japan Chairman Hiroyuki Watanabe
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications booth

 Highlights from the 20th ITS World Congress

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) will create a new vehicle industry, according to Hiroyuki Watanabe, Chairman of ITS Japan, who shared his vision for the future after declaring open the 20th ITS World Congress. In a video message to the congress, held in Tokyo on 14–18 October 2013, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe identified intelligent transport systems as a strategic growth factor for Japan and declared that he would build more infrastructure to support such systems.

Under the theme “Open ITS to the Next”, the 20th ITS World Congress Tokyo 2013 sought ways to open up the potential of intelligent transport systems on the basis of open platforms, open connectivity, open opportunities and open collaboration. The event attracted 20 961 people from 65 countries. Along with the opening and closing ceremonies, there were 232 sessions. These included executive sessions, in which high-level industry executives, public officials and academics from around the world shared global and strategic views on intelligent transport systems. There were also special interest sessions, organized at the request of organizations or individuals involved in developing and deploying intelligent transport systems. These sessions took the form of open workshops for experts from government, industry and academia.

An exhibition of intelligent transport system technologies, products, and services provided opportunities for interdisciplinary networking among national and regional organizations, industry associations, the corporate sector and researchers. A total of 137 companies and ministries exhibited their products, services or policies.

The exhibition was open not only to congress participants, but also to interested parties from companies and industry groups. Various field trips and tours were conducted to give participants a closer look at the deployment of the latest technologies.

In the area of safety, there was an exhibit on new driving support systems that lay the foundation for automated driving, from conventional technologies such as forward-collision prevention braking systems and lane-departure prevention systems, to collision prevention systems and parking support systems that use vehicle-to-vehicle communication. A disaster-response system that uses communication from vehicles to an intelligent transport system control centre was unveiled.

Opening up to society

Starting from basic concerns regarding safety and traffic management, the field of intelligent transport systems is now extending into three new domains: energy management; personalized mobility services navigated by big data; and resilient transport systems. The first two stem from the emergence of electric vehicles and continuously advancing information and communication technologies (ICT).

The concept of resilient transport has become prominent since the earthquake that devastated east Japan in 2011. More generally, mobility in mega cities or regions is a major challenge that needs to be addressed in emerging economies, especially in Asia.

20 years of achievement

In the early 1990s, the three main world organizations responsible for advancing intelligent transport systems, ITS Japan (Asia-Pacific), ITS America (the Americas) and the European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination Organization (ERTICO), agreed that there should be one major world congress each year where advanced concepts, research results and deployment activities could be presented and discussed. It was agreed that each congress would include a display of new equipment and operating practices. Beginning in Paris in 1994, the event has subsequently rotated around the three participating regions.

Bringing together the world’s automobile manufacturers with government representatives from many countries, in particular from ministries of transport or communications, the annual ITS World Congress has achieved great results, such as the implementation of electric toll collection.

Concepts demonstrated at the 20th congress showed that the history of achievement continues. For example, the Study Group for Promotion of Advanced Safety Vehicle, a joint initiative involving industry, academia and government, headed by Japan’s Ministry of Transport, has developed communication-based advanced safe driving assistance systems, which were demonstrated during the congress.

Driving assistance systems with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian communication can improve safety in different traffic conditions. For instance, the systems can prevent accidents when visibility is poor by providing drivers with information on potential hazards such as the approach of vehicles or pedestrians. They can also support drivers by providing information on traffic conditions.

In another example, Toyota demonstrated a new concept of a driving assistance system using cooperative adaptive cruise control and lane trace control to reduce traffic jams, accidents and driver workload. The cooperative adaptive cruise control system manages inter-vehicle distance, while the lane trace control system keeps vehicles in the centre of their lanes and prevents weaving. Both these demonstrations used 700 MHz vehicle-to-vehicle and roadway-to-vehicle communication systems.

Using part of the 700 MHz band to support safe driving

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shared its vision of cutting-edge ICT for intelligent transport systems, such as the 700 MHz vehicle-to-vehicle and roadway-to-vehicle communications systems supporting safe driving and the 79 GHz high-resolution collision-prevention radar for pedestrian safety.

Following a study on possible uses of the frequency bands made available as a result of the digitization of terrestrial broadcasting, the Information and Communications Council of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications concluded in June 2007 that part of the 700 MHz band should be used for advanced intelligent transport systems to create safer transport infrastructure. Following research on the matter, the Information and Communications Council considered the technical requirements (in particular relating to interference) for the 700 MHz band to support driving safety through vehicle-to-vehicle and roadside-to-vehicle communications. This led, in December 2011, to a revision of the related technical regulations.

Intelligent transport systems using the 700 MHz band send and receive information, such as positions and speeds of automobiles and other surrounding vehicles, in two ways: between vehicles with built-in radio devices (in-vehicle devices); and from stations located on roadways (roadside devices) to in-vehicle devices.

Radio waves in the 700 MHz band used by these systems have the feature of wrapping around buildings and behind large vehicles, into areas out of the field of view. This gives access to information about vehicles in the driver’s blind spots and can prevent collisions at intersections where visibility is poor.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication can be used anywhere, regardless of whether base stations have been installed or not. Where base stations have been installed, roadside-to-vehicle communication is able to provide information to vehicles — such stations are expected to be effective in areas that are prone to traffic accidents.

Starting from 1 April 2013, it became possible to license roadside devices in all regions of Japan, and also to use in-vehicle devices. Studies are now focusing on introducing pedestrian-to-vehicle communication, using radio devices carried by pedestrians.

Safety driving support by 700 MHz band communication system

Pedestrian safety

To prevent accidents involving people and bicycles near vehicles, there has been demand in Japan for high-resolution radar able to detect small objects. Accordingly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has drawn up a policy for the use of 79 GHz band radar, because radar in this band is able to detect small objects such as pedestrians. Regulatory revision is currently under way.

Many fatal accidents involving pedestrians occur while they are crossing the road. High-resolution radar can distinguish between parked cars, roadside structures and humans, and provide precise information to the driver. High-resolution radar also detects the location of objects more accurately. For example, to prevent accidents at pedestrian crossings, it is necessary to be able to detect individuals within groups of people. This is possible with high-resolution radar.

High-resolution radar systems using the 79 GHz band hold out the promise of protecting pedestrians both by warning drivers and by linking danger alerts to braking controls in the vehicle.

Another common cause of fatal accidents involves motorcycles. Accidents often occur when vehicles are passing each other on straight roads or when making turns. In such cases, it is more important to detect the small fast-moving motorcycle than the automobile.

With 79 GHz band high-resolution radar, it is possible to detect objects over a wide range of distances, from short distances around an intersection to longer distances along a straight roadway. Efforts are now being made to develop technologies to increase the detection-range angle for 79 GHz band high-resolution radar, in order to meet an increasing range of needs in the future.

Reinventing transportation in our connected world

The 20th ITS World Congress closed with the ceremonial passing of a globe to Detroit, United States, where the 21st ITS World Congress will be held on 7–11 September 2014 under the theme “Reinventing Transportation in our Connected World”.

“Our theme … is a great story of reinvention of our transportation systems”, says the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2014 congress, James Barbaresso, Vice President of Intelligent Transportation Systems, HNTB Corporation, and Organizing Committee Chairman of the 21st World Congress. The theme covers vehicles, people, mobile devices, and roads and infrastructure. Detroit now has more than 200 miles of freeway covered by the latest intelligent transport technology. More than 238 closed-circuit television cameras constantly monitor the condition of the roadways, while 78 electronic message signs update drivers on road works or delays. There are also traffic signals with centralized and adaptive control systems to improve traffic flow. “Detroit is made of grit, but we’re also made of silicon”, says Mr Barbaresso.