Toyota partners with weather firm to use wiper blade data to predict weather

Weathernews Inc and Toyota have joined forces to begin a verification test in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi prefecture, Japan. According to a statement issued jointly, “In this verification test, the wiper operating status of Toyota’s connected vehicles being driven in the designated regions is visualized as a map and compared with actual weather data.” By analyzing wiper usage there is a way to determine the locations where it is raining or snowing.

With the launch of the Crown and Corolla Sport in June of last year Toyota has begun a large-scale rollout of connected vehicles via a Data Communication Module (DCM). Toyota can gain from this test a knowledge of wet road conditions ahead. Rain increases the chance of a road accident by a factor of four compared to a typical sunny day. This should be particularly helpful with rain that forms in the troposphere which is undetectable by today’s weather radar.

Weathernews said in its statement, “In recent years, the growing severity of weather phenomena and the resulting damage have become a societal issue, and there is an unprecedented demand for local, immediate weather information, as well as information on how to respond. To meet these needs, it is necessary to determine more detailed and accurate weather conditions in real-time.” The statement continued, “Toyota and Weathernews began an initiative that aims to use Weathernews’ weather data and Toyota’s connected vehicle data to improve the accuracy of weather observation and forecasts and increase driver safety.”

This shows forward thinking as industry players begin utilizing the vehicle data that is already being acquired. It’s reasonable to expect that feedback from wheel sensors and onboard exterior temperature sensors could detect slippery conditions as well. The current technology in place shows potential for opening a new path for detecting all types road and environmental conditions.

Weathernews, headquartered in Chiba, a prefecture just west of Tokyo, was founded in 1970 to provide weather routing services to oceangoing vessels. Over the next 15 years the company expanded into aviation weather services and also tracks weather for catering companies who plan outdoor events. Weathernews envisions itself as a weather information exchange platform partnering with a variety of different industries to improve weather reporting and forecasting.

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