THE NEW VALUE FRONTIER
Interview

Achieving a Zero Traffic Accident Society with Smart Road Side Infrastructure

Mobility
Introduction

Making Safe, Secure Roads a Reality with Kyocera’s Smart V2I Road Side Unit

Smart RSU (V2I Road Side Unit)

Autonomous cars are closer than ever before to commercialization. Testing is underway around the world, and we are gradually moving towards a society in which cars will require no manual operation.

However, the commercialization of autonomous cars cannot be achieved through technological innovations in automobiles alone. The key to making this technology a reality is the development of infrastructure that can link vehicle and road information to ensure traffic safety.

To support these developments, Kyocera has developed the “Smart V2I Road Side Unit.” This unit uses sensors and transmitters to pick up road information, such as that of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians, and relay it to other vehicles on the road. It will be a key piece of infrastructure to help prevent accidents when autonomous cars are fully commercialized.
Kyocera’s goal is to contribute to the creation of safe, secure roads, and thereby advance an autonomous mobility society. Utilizing expertise in telecommunications developed through the manufacturing of PHS base stations, as well as know-how in transmitter development and base station maintenance, Kyocera will contribute to the advancement of key public infrastructure.

Technology Data
Smart V2I Road Side Unit

Smart RSU (V2I Road Side Unit)

Road side units will support autonomous vehicles on both expressways and public roads, transmitting vehicle positional information and traffic signal information. Kyocera took part in a JR East-led project to test self-driving buses along JR East’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) road network, providing information from road side units to process priority passage information in areas in which only one vehicle can pass.

01

Leveraging Kyocera’s Expertise in Telecommunications
Advancing Public Infrastructure with Road Side Units

At the forefront of Kyocera’s mobility business is Kyocera’s Communication Infrastructure Systems R&D Division which operates within the Corporate R&D Group. Currently, they are engaged in the development of the Smart V2I Road Side Unit. Below, a junior Kyocera R&D employee speaks to one of the division’s senior managers about the changes and challenges facing Kyocera’s mobility business.
  • Senior Manager
    Development Department 2
    Communication Infrastructure Systems R&D Division
    Corporate R&D Group
  • Smart RSU Development Engineer
    Section 1, Development Department 2
    Communication Infrastructure Systems R&D Division
    Corporate R&D Group
  • What were your thoughts when you first began R&D on road side units?

  • As our PHS business scaled down, I always thought that we’d have to make use of our telecommunications expertise in some other way. This is when we looked at contributing to an autonomous mobility society. We knew that telecommunications technology would be incorporated into vehicles at some point in the future. Road side units which communicate with this technology, we thought, could become key to ensuring safe roads with zero accidents.

  • What has been particularly difficult in the R&D process until now?

  • Road side units still aren’t that common in Japan. Although we hope that our technologies can contribute to the popularization of road side units for safer, more secure roads, there are still many issues we need to solve, such as the installation conditions, environment, and costs.

  • Road side units will have a huge role to play in creating a society with zero traffic accidents. On the other hand, there are definitely some difficulties in working with road infrastructure.
    For example, in the smartphone, computer, and other communications industries, updates can be made when necessary. With road infrastructure, however, the specifications are incredibly detailed, so adding functions down the line is not as simple. I didn’t expect this to be an issue when we first started. With so many predetermined specs, even if you want to add functions later, it’s tough.

  • I agree. Looking ahead, we’ll have to consider how to apply our technologies despite these restrictions, and how to move forward with safe and secure automation.

02

Making Safe, Secure Roads a Reality
Developing Road Side Units that Connect Vehicles and People

Research and development is underway to create road side units that can both contribute to the automation of vehicles and achieve a society with zero traffic accidents. Here we look at some of the initiatives underway to bring the units to commercialization, and find out what is expected of the next generation of researchers.
  • What is your vision for the future regarding the commercialization of these road side units?

  • Our plan is to incorporate Bluetooth® into multi-protocol road side units so that we can form a connection between cars and people. This means that not only will the units connect with cars, but with smartphones and wearable devices, too. Transmitting information via these units will allow us to share positional information from cars with pedestrians’ smartphones. Similarly, it will allow us to share positional information from smartphones to alert cars of pedestrians in their blind spots. We believe this will contribute to reducing the number of accidents.

    • * The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Kyocera Corporation is under license.
  • Certainly, we need to consider pedestrians in our developments if we are to reduce the number of road accidents. For example, more often than not, people looking at their smartphones while walking and joggers listening to music through their earphones won’t realize when a car is approaching. Communicating these dangers to people through their smartphones isn’t something that has been possible with previous road side units.

  • This is precisely why we need to further promote the popularization of these road side units. They need to be compact enough to be installed in any location and be reliable enough to continue operating regardless of the weather conditions and outdoor environment. Realistically, road side units must be able to function under any environmental condition. Whether this is possible or not is going to be determined by the next generation of R&D staff.

  • During development, there have been a number of occasions when I’ve felt that the biggest challenges lie after we transform our ideas into reality. In Japan, with declining populations in rural areas and an increasing number of elderly citizens returning their driving licenses, the number of bus users is set to increase. However, there is also a nationwide shortage of bus drivers, which means that the development of autonomous driving is a pressing issue. We’re continuing with experiments and learning by trial and error to find ways for road side units to contribute to the issues facing public transportation.
    We were lucky enough to participate in JR East’s BRT experiment, but with each new test we uncover fresh obstacles, so clearly there’s still a long way to go.

  • New issues are uncovered with each passing day, so it’ll be a while until we can all be content. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to the creation of safe, secure roads. However, since you are both an engineer and a mother, you can provide a range of perspectives to the project that I simply don’t have. I hope you’ll keep challenging new things to enhance your ability to transform ideas into reality.

  • Thank you!
    I’ll make sure to use my unique perspective to consider how road side units can contribute to the issues facing public transportation.

Message

Utilizing Kyocera’s Expertise in Telecommunications to Enhance Road Side Infrastructure and Contribute to Autonomous Mobility

To realize a society with zero traffic accidents, Kyocera is using its expertise in telecommunications to enhance safety and security through the development of advanced road side infrastructure. For Kyocera, entering the field of infrastructure is a huge endeavor. As such, we will continue to take on new challenges to optimize the movement of people and things in the autonomous mobility society of the future.