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Wireless Networking Hardware

Smart Car-to-Car Navigation Network in Japan 139

nomrniceguy writes "Japan now boasts some of the latest technology in zapping computerized data to millions of cars, delivering what may be the world's smartest way to drive. New navigation systems in Japan can quickly tell drivers which roads have traffic jams. A computerized FM radio broadcast system that collects and sends information from more than 28,000 infrared and radio-wave beacons installed along roads, they can also calculate how many seconds it would take to drive through virtually every block of the nation's cities and then find the fastest routes. In tests by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, a Japanese research group, cars connect to other cars wirelessly to get information about a traffic accident or an approaching ambulance."
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Smart Car-to-Car Navigation Network in Japan

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  • Malicious Worms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DominoTree ( 803219 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:06AM (#11232603)
    Since they're all connected, couldn't a malicious worm cause lots of navigation issues?
    • Or cause the system to advertise a great viagra alternative.
    • Re:Malicious Worms (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      or, you may be surprised and see it continue working as its supposed to do for years
    • You can't plug a keyboard into the system and start typing code to make a bug for it... Just like there aren't bugs in Lexus's navaigation system... They just need to use a more proprietary system.
    • Or if a hacker found a way to broadcast bogus information to other vehicles to cause traffic mayhem.

      Could bring a new meaning to the term "war driving" :D

    • Nevermind malicious worms, if a motivated stalker breaks the system, which depending on how they implemented it could be fairly easy, he has the power to influence where you drive ... including that dead end in the worst part of town.
  • Great. (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Romancer ( 19668 )
    And back here in the US we can't forsee the need for software that is capable of scheduling planes with increasing demand over the holidays.

    Let's see:
    number of planes *
    number of seats *
    number of terminal checkins *
    number of internet reservation querys /
    number of database servers =
    crash, right?
  • Small Problem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MattJakel ( 815179 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:11AM (#11232617) Journal
    Wouldn't mass adoption of this technology kind of destroy the point? If everyone was told the fastest route, eventually more traffic would come there until everything was at an equilibrium... but maybe that would be considered ideal by some...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      i think people who would regularly use the sytem eventually figure out how to "work" system to their own benefit.
    • I think it would help overall, since it would be pretty dynamic - the fastest route now has too much traffic, and another empty one opens up that'll save you time, and so on, changing every few moments. So it should pretty much balance itself out, instead of everybody taking the shortest route. Not that I RTFA, though...
    • Re:Small Problem... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 3-State Bit ( 225583 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:53AM (#11232729)
      Did you know that if there's a ten-car jam in a tunnel, with clear road ahead, and clear road for a ways behind, then if we get the traffic that's coming up behind the jam to lose some time by making a detour, maintaining its speed and distance-between-cars, etc, while the ten cars start moving again, then the jam disappears -- but if we let the traffic that's coming up behind all reach the traffic jam while the hind car is still at a stand-still, and come to a stop behind it, all in turn, then there's still a jam? Only now instead of 10 cars it consists of however many cars were all cruising fine? (If it's on a highway, where these groups of cars aren't segmented by traffic lights, then this can be a huge number of cars. That's why you can have 45 minutes of stop-and-go traffic even though ahead of the whole jam is clear road and there's absolutely no reason that these hundreds of cars should be at a stand-still, except that an accident HAD occurred, miles and miles ahead of where the current traffic jam is, over an hour ago.)
    • I would imagine that it would route traffics to roads until there's a faster one, ie. the first one has enough cars so that another road is actually faster. Repeat the process.
    • It's not a problem. When the (currently) fastest route gets jammed, it's no longer the fastest route. New traffic will get directed on a different (the new) fastest route.
    • Ermm... not necessarily. When the optimum route is no longer the optimum, the system might update the recent development, and advise the new/late users an alternative to it. I think there's a branch in Artificial Intelligence called Swarm Intelligence [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] that deals with it.
    • If everyone was told the fastest route, eventually more traffic would come there until everything was at an equilibrium... but maybe that would be considered ideal by some...

      It is ideal in a global sense. But don't worry about reaching equilibrium, that's not likely to happen if the status of other independent-packet routing problems are any indication. As well as general network stability issues, it would be naive to think that all cars will be treated equally in such a scheme. A priority system based
      • As long as that higher priority traffic is an ambulance on its way to the crash, I'm happy.

        Even one based on need, as long as people who abuse it (e.g. "I have a deadline every single trip") get a stiff fine, that's still okay. The system would tend to even itself out and would still likely be faster on the average than... oh, say Lawrence Expressway. (You folks in Silicon Valley know what I'm talking about.)

        That said, I already have this. It's called a radio tuned to KCBS. I know about a half dozen

    • It is a dynamic situation. It would not be the same route for everyone all the time. Since the system monitors the conditions, it may suggest 3 routes to different people all going the same way...
    • Perfect! The freeway system will now accomodate my ADD! woot!

      (((Where are my carrot sticks....)))
  • wireless connection? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deathazre ( 761949 ) <mreedsmith@gmail.com> on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:12AM (#11232622)
    cars connect to other cars wirelessly to get information about a traffic accident or an approaching ambulance.

    this is one of the big reasons I have my CB on channel 19 all of the time. it's quite nice.

    just have to deal with some of the truckers trying to be funny.
    • What is CB channel 19? is that the general chatter channel for the truckers? :-) I was wondering the other day what these sorts of things are in other countries, since here in Australia it's channel 40, on UHF CB (and AM too AFAIK, but that is not used as much these days).

      I currently have only a handheld UHF transceiver, but that is enough to be able to talk to nearby trucks and busses.
      • yeah, all the truckers use channel 19. I think it's at least partially because it's in dead center in the CB frequency band, so you get just that much more range and reception if your antenna's tuned right.
  • by BJH ( 11355 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:16AM (#11232635)

    New navigation systems in Japan can quickly tell drivers which roads have traffic jams.
    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>

    int main(void) {

    $ gcc -o nav nav.c
    $ ./nav
    Is there a traffic jam on this road?

    And I'm not joking...
  • Japan (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mboverload ( 657893 )
    Japan gets all the new stuff because of the culture, people. Young people's coolness is judged by the level of technology they have, not some stupid shoes. When a girl asks for something, it isn't the latest hat, it is the latest handheld media player.

    People in Japan get the cool stuff because they BUY the cool stuff. However, in the US retailers do not like to take chances. We are conservative in our buying, looking for the greatest value, while the cool factor is what matters in Japan.

    This means,

    • Re:Japan (Score:2, Funny)

      by forceflow2 ( 843966 )
      This means, sadly, we nerds get screwed.

      And not the good kind of screwed, neither.
      • Yeh unfortunately thats clearly the case... ... well I guess I'll go back to fondling my Amiga A3000. Happy New Years. :-D
    • Re:Japan (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Young people's coolness is judged by the level of technology they have, not some stupid shoes. When a girl asks for something, it isn't the latest hat, it is the latest handheld media player.

      I take it you've never really lived in Japan. Or you only hung out with geeks.

      Cool cell phones and tech items are cool, but cool shoes, clothes etc. are just as much, if not more of an issue in Japan. If you visit Japan and look around, you should notice that 99% of Japanese are better dressed than their America
      • Re:Japan (Score:2, Informative)

        by mad flyer ( 589291 )
        What do you exactly mean by better ?

        I live in Nagoya and it's either secretary uniforms to look sexy in a fetichist way or a mix of poorly tasted branded clothes. With no regard to matching the style or color.
        Last autumn fashion was some kind of cowgirl/mooboots shoes with fishnet stockings a tank top over a t-shirt with lace collard and wool bonnet.

        AND I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. it was everyday, everywhere.

        Yes there's cool things in Japan (including schollgirls uniforms). But good taste is not part of them
        • How "good" their taste may be is a matter of opinion. What they are is innovative in style. They mix and match to seek an original and more individual style. And the Japanese aren't the only ones who experiment with style. It just seems like a lot of them have taken the idea to heart.

          Contemporary clothing designs straight from the runway are also rather eccentric and may not seem like "good taste" the eyes of the general public either. But it is these new designs that allow fashion to evolve (you don't s

        • Re:Japan (Score:2, Interesting)

          by McFadden ( 809368 )
          As a Japanese resident (originally from the UK) I kinda disagree with the above comment.

          Yes, Japanese fashion can sometimes be different from western tastes, but this doesn't necessarily make it "good" or "poor" - it's just different.

          One thing I really like about Japan is the non-judgemental attitude that most Japanese seem to take to individuality in fashion. You can walk down the street in a pair of pyjamas and gumboots and people don't turn to each other and "tut tut" as if they the arbiter elegan

      • Re:Japan (Score:3, Funny)

        by jrumney ( 197329 )
        99% of Japanese are better dressed than their American counterparts.

        99% of anyone are better dressed than their American counterparts. Except maybe Canadians.

        Actually, most Japanese have pretty awful fashion sense, they just buy a lot of designer labels and follow sometimes bizarre trends (loose socks, anyone?). But still, better than their American counterparts.

    • Re:Japan (Score:1, Insightful)

      by TheoMurpse ( 729043 )
      while agreeing with most of your post, i disagree with your statement that girls always ask for the latest tech instead of hats...while no, i'm not aware of them wanting hats per se, i DO know that it sucks to be a boyfriend in this country, cuz your gf will be like "get me a gucci bag for xmas" "get me prada" "get me louis vuitton"

      japan is one of the worlds largest importers of those brands, WAY ahead of the US i know and i would wager a guess as to one of the top 3 importers in the world

      i have seen news
      • Got some news for you, just like the Internet[1] TV shows are different from the real life.

        I just moved back to Canada after 14 years in Japan, and I mostly agree with the parent.

        [1] In spite of what you mighr have been lead to believe, NOT everything you see on the Internet is true. Really. ;-)
        • do you even read sigs? i'm IN japan attending university ^_^

          and this was news buddy, not the internet, watched right off NHK
          • Oh yes, NHK the paragon of jurnalistic integrity ... http://sg.news.yahoo.com/041220/1/3pdfi.html. :-)

            Yeah, I read your sig, I even used to drive nearby your Uni on my way back from Costco - have a friend who used to live in Machida.
    • Well, Japanese consumers are also willing to pay for quality. Unlike the vast majority of north americans who want cheap cheap cheap.

      For example, say Walmart has a DVD player on for $50 and a much better DVD player that will last longer with more features for $100. Any bets which will sell out first?

      People will buy the cheap POS and then cherfully return it for a replacement 6 months down the road when the power supply packs it in, or when the laser optics go out of alignment.

      Is it any wonder that few
        The other day I needed to get a five port switch and I didn't feel like fighting for a piece of the road with the "Christmas shoppers"; so, I went to a nearby "Future Shop" - it's a Best Buy type shop, and I believe it has actually been bought by Best Buy.
        While there I took the time to look around, just in case they miraculously had a "Network DVD" - I stupidly didn't buy one in Softmap last month, and now I regret it. To make a long story short, I was really surprised by the APPALLI
    • um... we are talking about a navigation system implemented by the government here!!!
    • You're right about the culture, but the gov't over there also spends huge on infrastructure projects like this one. We're not too far away - check out gcmtravel.com, for example.

      The dumb part of this whole thing in Japan is that almost everyone uses public transportation, and they have awesome train and bus systems. Driving in Tokyo or Yokohama is slightly less fun than bamboo under the fingernails.

      P.S. You still are judged by your shoes in Tokyo. It's one of the first thing people look at, especially
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:17AM (#11232638) Homepage Journal
    In downtown Japan, there are a great deal of computerized navigational assistants as well. Pay phones, largely obsolete because of the prevalence of cellphones, have been adapted to 'phone maps' -- lift a receiver up and a cheerful voice (or sometimes a flat tone) will request where you want to go.

    Upon speaking the destination (speech to text is not perfect, especially if you don't speak the language, so it may take a couple tries) you'll notice a RFID-tagged card issued from the machine and speakers along the sidewalk will guide you to where you want to go, within reason. More modern places will also light the sidewalks with your issued card color, although this relies on service funding by the merchants.

  • A few days ago, EU car companies were discussing ad-hoc networks [slashdot.org] to divulge traffic info. 10 days later we find out Japan is already rocking the island with this technology. We need to stop posting this stuff on Slashdot, otherwise Japan will implement all our cool "Western" ideas before we can!

    • This is a Nobunaga Hiroichi reporting rive from Tokyo, where Japan has started buirding its own radder to hayben. Ahready, the Japanese radder extend faaar into space and it's growing by a-one thousand miles every day. As the endeavor continues it is becoing clear that Japan will reach a-hayben before the United States.
  • leave it to japan.
    its just a great idea.
    it makes so much sense.

  • Hack it (Score:3, Funny)

    by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:21AM (#11232655)
    A great hack would be to redirect all the annoying drivers talking on the cell phone, putting on make up, having sex and playing the guitar while driving into the ocean.
  • by Raijin Z ( 685276 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:21AM (#11232658) Homepage
    ...until some political undesirables are directed into a fiery death. "The bridge around this blind corner is NOT out. Please proceed quickly."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..everyone drives an ambulance. Then we can all turn the sirens on and all get to work on time.
  • This is old old news. The Monet carnavi system has live updates of traffic jams, the feature is several years old. It even allows drivers to access live webcams at common traffic chokepoints.

    It appears that the submitter did not even read the article he suggested. There is nothing new in the article, in fact, the article is about how drivers DON'T use the long-existing system.
  • The US has many more roads than Japan has, over a wider dispersed area. The investment necessary to do such a thing would be impossible to fathom, not to mention the technical challenge of processing all that data. We'll have to be satisfied with other solutions [amasci.com] in the meantime.
    • You wouldnt need to do it for the entire US.
      Just pick somewhere with a big traffic problem (say, the central parts of New York City) and roll it out there.

      The only problem is getting the american people to A.Buy navigation devices (or whatever) to be able to use the system
      and more to the point B.actually follow the directions the device says are the most efficiant.
  • What if (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Lets say this service can detect an ambulance
    approacing or any for instance a cop car...
    A getaway would be a pleasure either way.
    • ...Until they identify you and inform you that the fastest route to your destination just happens to take directly on to a road that has been blocked by the cops.
  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @04:56AM (#11232737) Journal
    If Japan had any alternate routes to take that were viable. We drove from Tokyo down to Kakegawa yesterday to spend New Year's with my in-laws. 3 cm of snow fell which resulted in the Tomei Expressway (a large north-south toll road and major transportation link) being closed. The trip normally takes about 2-3 hours with plenty of time for stopping to let the 2 year old run around.

    We wound up spending 12 hours in the car yesterday. All of the traffic diverted from the Tomei onto local roads combined with the snow and snow-clueless drivers made one massive traffic jam. We were averaging 2-3 km/hr for a large part of the day.

    • Dude ... you almost made me weep. Kakegawa reminded me of Daito, and "Seatopia". While not my favourite onsens, it beats anything around here ... I am freezing my butt off here In Canada.
    • Weather is always an issue. My wife lived in Dallas before we where married. They had an ice storm and her normal 15 minute drive to work took 4 hours. We live in Florida and during the evacuation for Frances it took a friend of mine 33 hours to drive to Atlanta. Took almost 12 hours to go from Orlando to Ocala which normally takes all of an hour.
      An Ad Hoc network would have been a great help not just with traffic but also with finding fuel.
  • cars connect to other cars wirelessly to get information about a traffic accident or an approaching ambulance. Useful, when you're late to work
  • Does anyone else think this is a bad idea? While people can't see IR, a strong ir will trigger the iris contraction which will reduce visibility. Maybe its too much time in laser labs with IR lasers and other light sources but I feel an odd sensation in my eyes with ir sources slightly brighter than an IR remote control.
  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <spam@nosPAm.pbp.net> on Saturday January 01, 2005 @05:21AM (#11232782)
    But maybe something like traffic.com would be more efficient?

    I think that it would be cool to have an LCD screen in the car with realtime information from something like traffic.com beamed in realtime.

    Maybe piggyback on a Sirius satellite stream or something neat like that? ;)

    Traffic in Japan can be a nightmare. when I lived there, I remember seeing LED billboard type signs above the highway with colors indicating the traffic patterns ahead.
    Actually, I'm surprised that they haven't done the "get realtime data to your car via satellite" thing yet. Traffic & weather would be useful to have. At the very least, it's something to look at when you're stuck in traffic.
    • yeah, you can tell I haven't had coffee. Sorry for the overuse of the word "realtime" in the original post.

      See, I'm trying to do my part to make sure that "realtime" is one of the most overused words of 2005. Looks like I'm off to a good start! :D
  • by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @05:27AM (#11232795) Homepage
    Imagine if there were an 'optimum speed' that the computer reccomended that everyone go to ensure smooth flow of traffic. It'd take a lot of processing power, but it could be done.

    Now imagine this speed is broadcast out to cars and the speed could vary between lanes. So this pretty much eliminates unnecessary traffic jams and fixes the 'wave' effect of traffic.
    • Imagine if there were an 'optimum speed' that the computer reccomended that everyone go to ensure smooth flow of traffic. It'd take a lot of processing power, but it could be done.

      Now imagine this speed is broadcast out to cars and the speed could vary between lanes. So this pretty much eliminates unnecessary traffic jams and fixes the 'wave' effect of traffic.

      I fear that that could only be effective if the computer system were allowed to actually enforce the speed as well. We all know good 'n well that
      • I fear that that could only be effective if the computer system were allowed to actually enforce the speed as well.

        It's Japan dude, that'll follow the duggested speed because they know it's better to work together than to strike out on your own.
    • Actually, that idea has been implemented. I recently saw a show on the History Channel about the German autobahn, they have a new system of traffic speed measurement sensors and a new set of dynamic speed limit signs. The computer judges how to set speed limits based on traffic flow and speed of the current traffic, then the network changes the speed limit signs for each zone accordingly. It's designed to maximize speed and minimize accidents from high speed traffic coming suddenly into congested zones. But
  • by Ian.Waring ( 591380 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @05:30AM (#11232801) Homepage
    A traffic monitoring network around all the major UK roads, and a talking SatNav that uses the data to route people around traffic jams as they happen. See here [smartnav.com]. Yours for around $1200 plus a $230/year subscription at current conversion rates - and it can optionally do speed camera warnings and stolen vehicle tracking too.

    Takes an average of 10 minutes to spot a jam with the current coverage (28,000 sensors on 9,000 miles of roads if my memory serves me right).

    Over 10 car manufacturers fit this as an optional extra this side of the pond. 30,000 units (in a vehicle population of over 23,000,000) sold to date - still way to go.

    Ian W.

    • This isn't new tech there either. I stayed for a year in Japan in 2002, and at that time was the then one and a half year old car we rode fitted with gps-nav with a map with highligting of jammed roads and such.

      You could with this system set it to calculate the route from A to B differently depending on how small roads you were willing to drive, how much in road-tolls you wished to stay under, or if you say wanted the quickest or the by petrol cheapest road. All of these kept traffic-jams in mind ...
  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Saturday January 01, 2005 @06:15AM (#11232865)
    If cars are communicating with each other, how long till someone hacks it and makes a traffic jam?
    • I'd have to wonder if they might have verification measure's put in place to prevent such action from working?

      For instance, lets say we have three cars side by side, named A, B and C respectively.

      Now A and B would both be saying, there's three cars here, if you can find a route with fewer than three cars, take it.

      Then we have car C, which someone has hacked to send false data. It is saying, I'm the only car here, come this way!

      Now due to the conflict between the reports, one of them would have t
  • of the one thing that does NOT need it. Humans rarely use accurate information appropriately.

    It's very easy to avoid ALL traffic jams:

    Don't let humans control velocity or trojectory.

    Simple -- already tested in California.

  • Already Been Done (Score:2, Informative)

    by 12x12 ( 625143 )
    This is at best old news. We already have this in the UK in various versions.

    We have sensors hanging from motorway bridges and along major routes they monitor trafic speed and report when it slows down or stops. Some of our systems also report when you are nearing a speed enforcement camera.
    Most of these things need a couple of hundred quid (Sorry USAnians out there quid=GB Pounds) subscription per year. OH yeah and some of them can track stolen cars by using the mobile phone network to triangulate th
    • Sorry Anonymous Coward, I wasn't denying the availability of other systems just reporting on ours.

      BTW when "having a go" at other posters please sign in as a registered user rather than AC. It makes the place so much more interesting.

  • All I can think of is where Kusanagi takes control of the van and calculates the best route to the suspected puppetmaster. :-)
  • On a recent trip to Japan, I noticed that most cabs had a GPS mapping system that shows congestion. It takes awhile to get used to your driver playing a "video game" while driving.

    Also, almost everybody has new cell phones with GPS capability. So you're jammed in the cab with 3 Japanese and they've all got their mobile phones out with route maps & current position shown. Heading north through Yokohama there was severe congestion (no, just normal rush hour congestion, I was told). Now everybody is tell

    • Sorry, nobody in Japan has a cel phone with GPS capability. They're all based on triangulation between cel tower locations, not GPS.
      • Then I was misinformed, by folks who should know better! Or more likely language issues got in the way.

        What about the systems that the cabs used?

        • It's not an uncommon point of confusion, most people wouldn't know the difference between a real GPS and the cel-tower triangulation systems (do they have an acronym for that system yet?)

          The carnavi systems (like cabs use) are all GPS, but the cel phone units aren't satellite based. There isn't enough room in a cel phone for a decent GPS receiver. I've seen handheld GPS units, but even the smallest are 3 or 4x the size of a typical cel phone.
      • Sorry, nobody in Japan has a cel phone with GPS capability. They're all based on triangulation between cel tower locations, not GPS.

        KDDI started the EZ Navi Walk [kddi.com] service at the end of October 2003, which uses GPS. Most of 3G phones they released since then support EZ Navi Walk. NTT DoCoMo released two models that supports GPS in 2003 too (they are 2G phones).

  • In some countries you can see when the next bus is comming on your phone. In London we have displays at bus stops that say when the next bus is but it would be so much better to have a map and the current locations of buses on it. In car navigation/traffic jam maps are pretty useless in the city because the jam is _everywhere_. But buses and taxis have priority lanes, I think a million more people would dump their cars and use the bus if they had live bus maps on their phones and bus stops, one of the worst
  • In a city like Tokyo, this would make the traffic worse. When the cars move quickly, the road will support a very high auto density. When there is a traffic jam, the road will support a much lower density.

    It used to be, that some of the side roads, due to not being known, would have heavy traffic, but not enough to cause a traffic jam. These side roads were near there maximum capacity. As soon as the side road ussge increeased, the road turns into a traffic jam, and the maximum capacity of the side ro
  • We are the borg.
  • This is old tech in Japan. The VICS-FM system has been available navigation systems in Japan since at least 1998....
  • Next stop - in car peer to peer !

    My how we laughed at their silly DRM schemes.
  • shouldn't the dept label be "moshi moshi"?
  • If they made the beacons monitor the conditions of the driver, they could eliminate alot of traffic patrols as well. Tickets for speeding and other computable offenses between beacons [if close enought] could be issued automatcially and hopefully reduce aggressive driving as well.
  • since everybody is listening to the same channel, doesn't it cause any traffic trouble since all the drivers rush to the same road which is the most smooth five min ago?
  • to send: "I'm an ambulance" "I'm an ambulance" "I'm an ambulance" ...

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead