Section 8. Integrating IT and Exploring New Energy Sources
Item 3. ITS Initiatives
Full-scale adaptation to ITS
The concept of intelligent transport systems (ITS) emerged at the beginning of the 1990s, a time when there were public calls for action on traffic accidents, traffic congestion, and environmental problems, and when electronics technology was advancing rapidly. Moves to promote ITS grew worldwide and bodies to drive its implementation were founded in the United States in 1990 in the form of ITS America and in Europe in 1992 with ERTICO. The first ITS World Congress was held in Paris in 1994 and the congress has subsequently been held yearly on rotation among Europe, North America, and Asia.
In Japan, VERTIS (Vehicle, Road and Traffic Intelligence Society) was set up in January 1994 with the support of five government agencies: the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI; now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [METI]), the Ministry of Transport (now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Construction (now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), and the National Police Agency. TMC Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda was appointed chairman of VERTIS, which changed its name in 2001 to ITS Japan. The five participating government agencies formulated implementation guidelines in 1995 and drew up the Comprehensive Plan for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Japan in 1996 to serve as a master plan, marking the beginning in earnest of joint initiatives by government and private industry.
TMC set up the ITS Planning Group in 1995 to look into implementation structures and other matters. In March 1996, an ITS Planning Division consisting of three groups-planning, technology, and public relations-was established. Since then, in coordination with relevant government agencies and organizations, the division has contributed to the advanced development of vehicle navigation, which is the most important ITS system, and to the creation of other systems, including the Vehicle Information and Communication System (VICS), the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system, and the HELPNET emergency alert service.
In July 1999, verification testing was begun for the Crayon in-house project to explore communal use of small electric vehicles as a strategy to ease urban traffic congestion. For the beginning of the verification testing, 50 units of the in-house developed two-seater electric commuter vehicle e-com were distributed to 13 corporate depots (dedicated parking lots) and an IT-based system was put in place to manage reservations and operation. From the same year, the pilot studies were supplemented by public trials in Toyota City, Kyoto, and other locations using e-com units provided by Toyota. The trials in Toyota City and the Crayon verification testing continued until March 2006.
Meanwhile, the Toyota Group developed a next-generation system for medium-distance transportation of medium-sized loads known as the Intelligent Multi-mode Transit System (IMTS). The system allows convoys to be operated automatically in train-like fashion but without mechanical connections between member vehicles on dedicated roadways through the use of telecommunications and magnetic lane markers embedded in the roadway. The vehicles in the convoy can also be operated separately and manually on general roadways. Following its introduction in 2001 at a theme park in Hyogo Prefecture, it was adopted by the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan (Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan), as a method of transit within the exposition grounds.
In 2004, the ITS World Congress, in its eleventh year, was held at the Port Messe Nagoya International Exhibition Hall in Nagoya in conjunction with a Nagoya ITS festival. TMC, Hino Motors, Ltd., and Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd., set up a joint booth at this exhibition to present their wide-ranging initiatives in the field of ITS.