THEA Collaborates With Car Manufacturers For Increased Safety Features

March 18th, 2024 by

The next step for many automotive companies is to provide a better, safer feature through vehicles that can communicate with each other and their surroundings. In the last couple of decades, there has already been a massive boom in safety and technology integration. Features such as backup cameras, blind spot detection, lane change assists, and intuitive braking and cruise control are no longer considered a luxury, and have become a widespread standard element on many vehicles. Coupled with the increasing available capability of onboard computers, radar, optics, and other elements our vehicles today can do much more than ever before. Although we are a far cry from flying vehicles or robots driving our cars for us, there is an all-new technology in the works, the ability for vehicles to communicate with both themselves and the roads around them.

THEA, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority has commandeered a program to create a “smart” roadside infrastructure to help communicate with vehicles that pertain to hazards, traffic, pedestrian safety, and more. In collaboration with several other institutions and companies they are looking to massively expand this program to cover more roads, more areas, and more vehicles. In partnership with DENSO, a vehicle mobility company, they have created an onboard communication unit for vehicles call the V2X, which is a short version of the phrase “vehicle to everything.” These onboard units are a versatile app that is intended to be compatible with many different vehicles for a common purpose: communication.

This venture would be nearly impossible without the cooperation of vehicle manufacturers, and luckily several across the United States have agreed to help with this pilot program to ensure smarter and safer roadways. Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota Motors of America have agreed to aid this exciting new program by having a select number of their vehicles outfitted with the V2X onboard units directly from the manufacturer. The ability for THEA to utilize vehicles already containing these communication applications give a much more realistic picture for trials of this pilot program, and hope to use the enhanced participation to expand on their program in the coming months.

The long-term aim of this collaboration is certainly increased safety via communication among all vehicles and applicable infrastructure. Honda has already been piloting a “smart intersection” program in Ohio, and THEA has long since had a communication-capable roadway in Tampa. They’ve already seen a great success with accident prevention, and hopes that with an expanded program they can see how to further improve conditions. THEA launched the fourth phase of this program in September 2020, and aims for a 4th Quarter full demonstration in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Toyota is no stranger to putting their customers first. The brand is one of the few that has made their safety suites available as a standard feature on a huge array of their more recent models, with even more as an optional package. Toyota has a long history of outstanding safety ratings and features, so its no surprise that the brand has put their best foot forward in partnership with THEA to help move towards a safer, more sustainable future.

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