Japan planning intelligent road systems

Finding real-time traffic data is becoming less unusual thanks to nav units popping up more frequently in vehicles nowadays, but real-time data about about potential road hazards, pedestrians in the way, and other random tidbits that could prevent a serious headache (or worse) isn't quite there yet. Japan's National Police Agency is on the ball, however, and hopes to take the currently installed Vehicle Information and Communication System (VICS) to the next level (and make sure that more than 10 percent of the population actually takes advantage of it). The Driving Safety Support System (DSSS) is being developed by the Universal Traffic Management Society of Japan (UTMS), and aside from creating a maze of acronyms to keep track of, it plans on utilizing two-way infrared beacons -- installed about 5.5 meters above the street -- to analyze real-time information about street conditions, hazards, and pedestrians who aren't paying attention. The beacons will reportedly beam the data to your in-car navigation system, and depending on your specific location, will be tailored to address intersections and crossroads that you are actually approaching. Approximately 20 types of subsystems could be installed by 2008, with 5 of these currently being tested -- the beacons are placed in "accident-prone" areas, and are each designed to help prevent a certain type of mishap, be it a rear-end collision, right-turn fender bender, or flattening of an innocent bystander or two. While this sounds like an excellent way to curb vehicular chaos in a nation where traffic is becoming a serious issue, we can't exactly envision this taking off like the UTMS probably hopes -- it's going to take quite awhile before a significant amount of drivers can rock navigation systems in their rides, and who's to say that all this pertinent information demanding the driver's attention won't become a hazard in and of itself?

[Via Pink Tentacle]