DETROIT — Toyota is teaming with the city of Ann Arbor, Mich., to jump-start testing of the car connectivity system that the Japanese carmaker plans to deploy stateside in 2021.
A network of roadside sensors will communicate with specially outfitted cars to improve everything from safety to traffic flow. The expanding system, expected to be the world's largest connected-car test bed by the end of this year, is run by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and builds on a network deployed in 2012. By year end, Ann Arbor will have 75 vehicle-to-infrastructure transmitter sites scattered among its streets and some 3,150 cars plugged in.
The expansive scope of the project is an unparalleled testing opportunity, said Hideki Hada, executive engineer at Toyota's technical strategy department for advanced safety.
"Even conservative Toyota became confident to move forward," Hada said in an interview. "It was in the research phase, but now it's in the realization phase."
Toyota Motor Corp., which employs about 1,800 people at its U.S. r&d hub near Ann Arbor, aims to leverage the system to test its dedicated short-range connectivity, or DSRC, technology.
The company in April said it would deploy the systems in Lexus and Toyota brand vehicles in 2021 and spread them across most of their lineups by the mid-2020s.
Toyota has offered the technology on some models in Japan since 2015, under the name ITS Connect. More than 100,000 DSRC-equipped cars are on the road there.
Those systems add about $250 to the base price, Hada said.