Many of us have seen the bumper sticker featuring a gun-toting Yosemite Sam and the words "Back Off." Turns out Honda wants to make them obsolete.

The Japanese automaker said it has developed the first-ever vehicle communications system geared to cut both traffic jams and fuel use by monitoring a driver's acceleration and braking habits and providing information that Honda says will encourage smoother driving.

Honda, along with the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, has developed on-board terminals that connect to cloud-based computing systems that allow communications between cars on the same road and provide information designed to encourage the driver to maintain a relatively constant driving distance between the vehicles in front. In other words, tail-gating is bad for both traffic and fuel economy, and Honda's system discourages it. Honda will conduct the first public-road tests of the product in Italy and Indonesia starting next month.

The system differs from traffic monitoring systems that have been part of other vehicles' communication systems in that it provides color-coded displays to indicate whether the driver needs to drive smoother and make his or her acceleration and deceleration more gradual. Honda says its system, when tested in a group of cars, boosted average speed by 23 percent and increased fuel economy of trailing vehicles by eight percent. Not bad for some cloud computing.
Show full PR text
Honda Develops World's First Technology to Detect the Potential for Traffic Congestion With the Goal to Prevent Traffic Jams

Public-road Testing to Begin in May 2012

TOKYO, Japan, April 26, 2012 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the successful development of the world's first*1 technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion and determine whether the driving pattern of the vehicle is likely to create traffic jams. Honda developed this technology while recognizing that the acceleration and deceleration behavior of one vehicle influences the traffic pattern of trailing vehicles and can trigger the traffic congestion.

In conjunction with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, Honda conducted experimental testing of a system utilizing the technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion. The test results demonstrated that the system helped increase the average speed by approximately 23% and improved fuel efficiency by approximately 8% of trailing vehicles.

With the goal to bring this technology to market, Honda will begin the first public-road testing of the technology in Italy and Indonesia in May and July of this year, respectively, to verify the effectiveness of the technology in minimizing vehicle congestion.

Rather than providing information to help the driver avoid existing congestion based on current traffic information, the system monitors the acceleration and deceleration patterns of the vehicle to determine whether the driver's driving pattern is likely to create traffic congestion. Based on this determination, the system provides the driver with appropriate information, including a color-coded display through the on-board terminal, to encourage smooth driving which will help alleviate the intensity of acceleration and deceleration by trailing vehicles, thereby helping to prevent or minimize the occurrence of vehicle congestion.

Moreover, the positive effect on minimizing congestion and fuel efficiency improvement can be further increased*4 by connecting the on-board terminals to cloud*2 servers to make the driver aware of and in sync with the driving patterns of vehicles ahead by activating the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control)*3 system at the right time to maintain a constant distance between vehicles at the most appropriate interval.

Traffic congestion causes not only a delay in arrival time but also an increase in CO2 emissions and a higher potential for rear-end collisions. Striving to realize "the joy and freedom of mobility" and "a sustainable society where people can enjoy life," as stated in the Honda Environmental Vision, Honda will work toward the establishment of a congestion-free mobility society all around the world.