Sometimes you wonder why someone didn’t think of really smart idea sooner. This is one of those things.
Toyota is teaming up
with Weathernews on a new research project to improve forecasts by using data gathered from windshield wipers. The duo began began what they call a “verification test” in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi Japan on November 1, in which the conditions of roads and their surroundings are ascertained using the operating status of windshield wipers. The joint research effort is designed to increase the accuracy of weather observation and forecasts, and improve driver safety using Weathernews’ weather data and the vehicle data obtained from Toyota’s connected vehicles.
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. Because wiper operating status typically corresponds to the presence or absence of precipitation, using wiper data has the potential to allow detection of precipitation that cannot be detected by standard raincloud radar. In the verification test, the relationship between the wiper data and weather data will be analyzed in detail, with the aim of detecting phenomena that could affect wiper operation in addition to detecting precipitation.
With the launch of the Crown and Corolla Sport in Japan in June of last year, Toyota began a full-scale rollout of connected vehicles. Going forward, nearly all passenger cars launched in Japan will have an on-board DCM (Data Communication Module). In addition to its own observation network at approximately 13,000 locations nationwide, Weathernews makes use of 180,000 weather reports a day from users to provide highly accurate weather forecasts.
Through this joint research project, both companies will provide weather data and the vehicle data obtained from connected vehicles as information “that is useful during emergencies” on a broad basis, with the goal of contributing to improved driver safety.
It is said that the rate of accidents during rainy weather is four times that of sunny days, so the presence of precipitation has a large effect on safe driving for vehicles. However, raincloud radar, which is often used to detect and predict rainy areas, has the disadvantage of being unable to detect rain resulting from rainclouds in the lower layer of the troposphere (an altitude of 1.2 miles or below) or small raindrops such as those that form during drizzles. In such cases, it has been difficult to accurately determine areas where it is raining.
In the verification test that began on November 1, 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. In past cases where low rainclouds produced rain that did not show up on raincloud radar in the Kanto area, rain was instead reported by users of the “Weathernews” app. The user reports received matched closely with the areas where wipers were being operated, showing that wiper data can detect rain that cannot be detected using raincloud radar.
By using wiper data to accurately ascertain the conditions of roads and their surroundings, such as precipitation and actual precipitation strength, undetectable using radar, Weathernews aim to contribute to driver safety by issuing warnings to drivers according to the situation.