New NTT technology can instantly analyze millions of moving cars

The Yomiuri Shimbun
REUTERS/Issei Kato
NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation) at the company office in Tokyo, Japan.

NTT Corp. plans to commercialize a new technology that can instantly analyze vast amounts of driving data from tens of millions of vehicles connected to the internet, perhaps as early as the end of fiscal 2023.

By combining data on road conditions transmitted by the vehicles, which are called “connected cars,” the technology will be able to quickly and accurately ascertain information related to safety and traffic congestion. It is expected to serve as the foundation for fully automated driving systems, and NTT is considering marketing the technology domestically and internationally to make it a global standard.

A unique data processing method developed and patented by NTT has made it possible to instantly retrieve only the necessary information, such as specific locations and times of day, from the vast amount of data sent from moving vehicles.

For example, after identifying the location of an obstacle on a road from an image captured by one car’s on-board camera, the technology can quickly inform vehicles that come after that car. Conventional technology takes about 20 seconds to notify drivers after locating an obstacle, but the new technology shortens that time to about 5 seconds. This makes it easier to avoid an object immediately after it is left on a road, thereby helping prevent accidents.

The new technology will also make it possible to monitor traffic congestion on a lane-by-lane basis, compared to the mainly road-by-road basis so far. It is expected to help predict traffic congestion in detail and suggest fuel-efficient driving routes.

When the number of connected cars increases to tens of millions, the volume of information involved is enormous, and the time required for processing has been a challenge. Based on experiments conducted with Toyota Motor Corp., NTT has confirmed that the system can stably process data even when more than 30 million vehicles are connected.

Now that commercialization of the new system is believed to be near, domestic automakers could adopt car navigation systems and other services based on the technology by the end of fiscal 2023.

According to the Automobile Inspection and Registration Information Association, there were about 62 million vehicles, excluding trucks and buses, in Japan at the end of September 2022. The new system will even be able to handle a situation in which most of these vehicles are connected to the internet.

Technology that allows vehicles to instantly exchange information about their surroundings is considered essential to the realization of fully automated driving systems that require no human operation in any location. NTT intends to further improve the newly developed technology as a foundation for automated driving.