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Toyota and Weathernews Conduct Joint Research to Improve the Accuracy of Weather Forecasts and Driver Safety
November 4, 2019 News


Editor’s Note: Data is everywhere. But it’s what we do with the data is what makes it so valuable. Now, organisations around the world are finding new and interesting ways to maximise the value of data that has been around us all along, like crude oil, waiting to be refined.

Here is a good example of how making use of big data and analytics can bring new insights into everyday activities, in this case driving. Weathernews and Toyota are aiming to analyse the relationship between the wiper data and weather data, and in addition to accurate detection of rainy areas, for better weather forecasting.

By using wiper data to accurately ascertain the conditions of roads and their surroundings, such as precipitation and actual precipitation strength, undetectable using radar, they are also aiming to contribute to driver safety by issuing warnings to drivers according to the situation.

Perhaps after the initial tests prove to be successful, this technology could be applied in ASEAN and elsewhere in the world, where the weather certainly plays a factor in affecting driving conditions.

The full press release follows:

On 1st November 2019, Weathernews and Toyota began a verification test in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi, in which the conditions of roads and their surroundings are ascertained using the operating status of windshield wipers, as well as weather data. This is part of a joint research effort to increase the accuracy of weather observation and forecasts and improve driver safety using Weathernews’ weather data and the vehicle data obtained from Toyota’s connected vehicles.

In this verification test, the wiper operating status of Toyota’s connected vehicles being driven in the designated regions is visualised as a map and compared with actual weather data. Because wiper operating status typically corresponds to the presence or absence of precipitation, using wiper data has the potential to allow detection of precipitation that cannot be detected by standard raincloud radar. In the verification test, the relationship between the wiper data and weather data will be analysed in detail, with the aim of detecting phenomena that could affect wiper operation in addition to detecting precipitation.

With the launch of the Crown and Corolla Sport in June of last year, Toyota has begun a full-scale rollout of connected vehicles, and going forward, nearly all passenger cars that are launched domestically will have an on-board DCM (Data Communication Module). In addition to its own observation network at approximately 13,000 locations nationwide, Weathernews makes use of 180,000 weather reports a day from users to provide highly accurate weather forecasts. Through this joint research project, both companies will provide weather data and the vehicle data obtained from connected vehicles as information “that is useful during emergencies” on a broad basis, with the goal of contributing to improved driver safety.

It is said that the rate of accidents during rainy weather is four times that of sunny days, so the presence of precipitation has a large effect on safe driving for vehicles. However, raincloud radar, which is often used to detect and predict rainy areas, has the disadvantage of being unable to detect rain resulting from rainclouds in the lower layer of the troposphere (an altitude of 2 km or below) or small raindrops such as those that form during drizzles. In such cases, it has been difficult to accurately determine areas where it is raining.