Automatic pothole reporting

| Information and Communication Technology

Vehicle behaviour could be used for determining the level of road deterioration

Toyota is using in-vehicle sensor to form a community based reporting system for infrastructure maintenance in Japan.

With plummeting highway maintenance budgets and rapidly deteriorating road surfaces, it’s hard to see how the ideal infrastructure requirements for the fully autonomous motoring ideal of the future could ever be realised. Part of the problem that councils face is the ability to detect and act upon road surface defects fast enough before the problems become so serious that major works are required to correct them.

In most cases, defect reporting is made simple by local authorities through web forms or hot lines but many drivers hit the same potholes every day and never report them. However, the answer could lie in a project being undertaken by Toyota in Japan.

Vehicle data reporting

After long periods of prototyping and testing, Toyota is now ready to start Japan’s first verification testing of road maintenance inspections using vehicle data obtained from connected cars. The testing will take place in Toyota City and will start on 1st August 2018.

The verification testing will enable assessment of whether the degree of road deterioration index values computed from the car’s behaviour data and actual road conditions are consistent, and validate these findings on more typical regional roads. Toyota also aims to further advance its technology toward supporting administrative services that implement road maintenance and inspection work in Toyota City more accurately and appropriately.

This means that the city authorities will perform manual road inspections as it usually does and compare this information with the data collected from the connected test vehicles to establish the degree of correlation between them.

In addition to providing road surface information collected through routine inspections and road patrols, Toyota City will also carry out discussions on the feasibility of applying this technology to road maintenance inspection work.

For its part, Toyota will extract vehicle data (traffic information probe data and vehicle behaviour data) obtained by connected cars and perform big data analysis with its proprietary Mobility Service Platform (MSPF). While providing road deterioration information, Toyota will also analyse the data’s correlation to actual conditions.

Verification Testing

Understanding road conditions ensures day-to-day convenience, as well as safety and security, for example, undertaking preventive measures against accidents and the ability to secure evacuation routes in the event of a disaster.

Toyota currently offers a Passable Route Map that provides real-time information on safe routes during disasters in Japan using data analytics based on telematics-equipped vehicles. With the verification testing taking place from August onwards, Toyota aims to continue developing technology that analyses vehicle behaviour information, to succeed in digitising road surface deterioration levels and to continue the development work on the practical uses of this technology.

Moving forward, Toyota will continue developing town and road technology using connected cars to actively support the work of local governments in the regions as well as in Toyota City.

Beyond verification

Toyota hasn’t said how long its verification testing will take but once the technology has been proven, there will be a lengthy period of further development in terms of data collection, big data analysis on a larger scale, the ability to extend the technology to less controlled environments than a test city and the local authority information management and response processes.

In the meantime, the web forms and hot lines will have to suffice.

Jonathan Newell
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