The catch? It’s a trial of the technology, using 500 taxis plying the streets of Tokyo and fitted with satellite-based monitoring systems that track how fast they are moving. The system will analyse both video and data logs to send out alerts on which lane is travelling the smoothest to other drivers using the TC Smartphone Navigation app.
“Toyota has been providing services such as airbag-deployment emergency notification, automatic navigational map-data updating and operator services using its data communications module (DCM) commercialised in 2002,” the car maker said in a statement.
”Toyota started to make DCMs standard on Lexus-brand vehicles and optional on Toyota-brand vehicles in 2005,” it said. “Using driving data collected from DCMs, Toyota also has been providing its ‘T-Probe’ big-data traffic information service since 2011, which is currently available through original-equipment navigation systems and through Toyota's TC Smartphone Navigation smartphone app.”
The app is currently only available in Japan. The trials, which start soon, will cover traffic conditions in the Tokyo metropolitan area before potentially being bumped to a much wider area.
Once it’s working, the system will alert the driver with a beep, and then show and say which lanes are congested, and which are freer-flowing. If you don’t believe it, the app will allow a user to tap on the screen and a real-time image of the traffic will pop up.
Toyota says one of the aims of the smart navigation system is to expand it to cover “road construction and traffic accidents, on roadway obstacles, as well as on parking-space vacancies and the degree of congestion around various retail outlets directly facing streets and other roadways”.
Current sat-nav systems that show real-time traffic information, such as Google Maps or Apple Maps, are limited to showing how fast traffic is moving along a section of road as a whole, not a single lane of a road.