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Toyota is the first automaker to dabble with vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity

Toyota has just revealed a new safety technology that opens lines of communication between cars and road infrastructure. The purpose of Toyota’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) is to limit traffic incidents when poor visibility or driver error is a factor.

The system, now available on three of its Japanese domestic models, will alert drivers when they are turning into oncoming traffic at busy intersections and in other compromising situations. Using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication via a 760MHz radio frequency, a car that comes within 100 meters of a transmitter will receive a symbol on the instrument display denoting data transfer.

The system can then show right-turn collision caution, either into a car or pedestrian, or red light warnings via visual and audio warnings. Additionally, the display will countdown the seconds until a light turns green when a vehicle is waiting at a red light.

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When two vehicles are equipped with ITS Connect, they will be able to communicate through radio-guided cruise control to improve traffic flow in a manner that is much more effective than reactive systems.

While only 20 junctions in Tokyo are equipped with transmitters for ITS-enabled vehicles, the city will have up to 50 by early next year. Additionally, Toyota promises the systems will become more widespread and cut down on the traffic fatalities that take place at busy junctions, which currently comprise nearly 45 percent of traffic fatalities in that country. In Japan, the ITS Connect system costs just 25,000 Yen (~$205 USD) and is being rolled out to global vehicles like the Prius soon.

While the technology will remain isolated in Japan for the time being, research on similar systems in the U.S. and Europe has already begun. The number of uses for this technology will grow as more vehicles are equipped with the ability to communicate, most likely extending beyond safety applications and into entertainment and convenience uses for vehicle occupants.