Japan has a very ambitious roadmap for ITS established by the government. Through the IT New Reform Strategy the Japanese government has committed to 15 priority measures. One of these measures is to have the world’s safest road traffic environment and reducing the number of road traffic fatalities under 5000 by 2012.

To achieve these targets the Japanese government has been calling for a widespread deployment of the so-called “cooperative driving support systems” across the country enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and with the infrastructure.

In Europe research is currently underway and small scale demonstrations will be planned next year in the context of these cooperative system research activities. However many barriers are still preventing the deployment of such technologies.

But can we learn from our Japanese colleagues?  What do they expect for the future of cooperative mobility? How are they using field testing to boost the introduction of new cooperative applications on the market?

Since 2006 the ITS Promotion Council has been working together with public and private stakeholders to deploy cooperative systems on Japanese roads by 2010.

In the context of this cooperation branded as the “ITS Safety 2010” initiative various field operational tests on cooperative systems have been carried out in Japan. We talked to Masao Fukushima from Nissan about the results of Nissan FOTs and his views and opinions on cooperative mobility.

About Masao Fukushima

Mr. Fukushima is responsible at Nissan for the entire technological management of autonomous ITS advanced driver assistance system and cooperative safety support system.

He is currently the Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association including the  ITS Sub-committee Smart Systems Experts Group as well as the Chairman of Kanagawa Driving Safety Support System (DSSS) for the Universal Traffic Management Society of Japan (UTMS).

In 2008 he earned the SAE Delco Electronics Intelligent Transportation Systems Award and this year the 2009 U.S. Government Award for Special Appreciation by U.S. DOT NHTSA.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: The ITS Safety 2010 event in February this year presented the results of various field tests conducted in Tokyo. Can you explain what the specific aim of these tests was?  How did Nissan contribute to this programme?

Masao Fukushima: The New IT Strategy published by the Japanese government has been calling for large scale field tests in 2008 on selected regional public roads. 

As a consequence five major successive regional field tests were carried out on cooperative systems in Kanagawa (mainly by Nissan) Aich (mainly by Toyota) Tochigi (mainly by Honda) Hiroshima (Mainly by Mazda) and Osaka (by road operators).  Each selected region – except Osaka – is the home town of the automotive company leading the tests.

In order to bring the test results together – and ensure greater visibility – a joint test in Tokyo was prepared common specifications were defined. The common Tokyo field test  was finalised early 2009. 

The tests featured three major cooperative driving support applications:

• Vehicle to infrastructure communication on ordinary road: DSSS (Driving Safety Support Systems)
• Vehicle to infrastructure communication on highway: Smart-Way (V-I cooperative on high way)
• Vehicle to vehicle communications: ASV (Advanced Safety Vehicle)

Not only leading did four car manufacturers participate in this trial but all Japanese automobile manufacturers were involved in this test including trucks manufacturers motorbikes companies and several foreign car manufacturers.

In total more than 30 vehicles from 16 automotive manufacturers were tested in this Tokyo joint test collaborating on applications of DSSS Smart-Way ASV.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: How do you see Field Operational Test as a tool to deploy new systems and services on the market? How are you ‘marketing’ their results towards governments and general public? 

Masao Fukushima: The main aim of field test in Japan is to verify the effectiveness of various ADAS systems and cooperative technologies and confirm the accuracy of all-in-one systems. 

Aside from the research and testing part of course field tests are also a great means to create further knowledge understanding and support from the government and the general public about ADAS and ITS in general.  These field tests are an opportunity for us to demonstrate new technologies ready to be launched on the market and create media attention towards these new applications.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: NISSAN also took part in the ITS Safety 2010 initiative organising field tests in the region of Kanagawa. Can you explain the specific applications that were tested in this context?

Masao Fukushima: The Kanagawa DSSS has tested intersection collision avoidance on ordinary drivers. The specific applications tested included stop sign recognition enhancement signal recognition enhancement and crossing collision prevention.

In the context of the ITS Safety 2010 initiative the Kanagawa test has been the most important one in terms of fleet size. The Aichi test recruited 200 drivers Tochigi region 30 Hiroshima 100 Osaka around 50 mainly project-related people.  In Kanagawa we recruited 2000 ordinary drivers to carry out the field test!

We have asked our customers fitted with the latest car navigation system and living in Yokohama city to take part in this trial.  In return they were offered two incentives. The first incentive a free 3 media VICS beacon antenna is very useful for receiving real-time and local traffic information. This antenna is sold in Japan as an optional part.  The second incentive was a free and up-to-date car navigation map database. 

Many customers responded positively not so much because they cared about traffic safety but mainly due to the incentives. Once they agreed to take part customers were driving their own car in ordinary driving conditions without being self-conscious or constantly reminded of the test.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: How far is the testing at present? Do you have already some results?

Masao Fukushima: Our test lasted 2.5 years starting in October 2006 and ending in March 2008.

The vehicles were fitted with data logging systems and the infrastructure with two beacons. The original beacon was set 100-150 m before the intersection. This beacon sends out the outside data such as traffic signal information traffic sign information road shape other vehicles existence and speed. The other additional beacon was set 20-40 m before the intersection.  The car navigation system was connected with the vehicle CAN bus.  Once everything was fitted the on-board system enabled the vehicle to send real time running data to two road side beacons.

Participants used their car in their everyday life without being conscious of the test. We only monitored and logged the participants’ data when they passed through the test sites. We recruited a large number of participants on the assumption that some participants might never reach the test sites (9 intersections in Yokohama city).

Good quantitative results were gathered from this test. Drivers tend to change their driving behaviour with such information support.  The test result showed that there was no negative effect and drivers learned to better anticipate potential dangers.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: As you are the project leader of the SKY project (Start ITS from Kanagawa Yokohama) can you explain what the SKY FOT is about? What are the objectives of this test and expected outcomes? What are the various applications that you are testing?

Masao Fukushima: SKY is a very unique field test as it is carried out by a large number of ordinary people. We have already started several initiatives such as intelligent speed advisory testing with 2000 participants around primary schools small children traffic safety using RFID with 300 participants pedestrian traffic safety using GPS cell phone by 700 participants hazard warning on winter road by 150 participants real time probe car data collection by 2700 vehicles etc.

Our SKY concept is to carry out the test in the real traffic conditions by ordinary people (not project related people).

Many of these applications are already on the market or coming soon.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: Finally what do you expect for the future of ADAS and cooperative systems? Do you see any major barriers that could prevent their deployment? When will we see cooperative systems on the road in Japan?

Masao Fukushima: Vehicle to infrastructure communications is going to become a reality in Japan soon. The DSSS service lead by the National Police Agency Japan will start from next spring – April 2010.  A number of road side units (Infra red light beacon) will be constructed – over 1000 in the whole country in the first year.  Smartway (V-to-I on highways) will also be coming soon. 

Early implementation and wide deployment is a very important issue for cooperative systems to become a reality.  Field testing is for us crucial as we have to investigate the effectiveness of existing hardware system and function before we deploy these.

Link to original Article


Original Publication Date: Sat 24 Jul 2010