The Goal Is Helping Commuters Avoid Traffic Or Find Alternative Routes To Points Of Interest
Published: 29/08/2012 at 02:11 AM Newspaper section: Business
Although there are already several options for in-car GPS navigation systems with real-time traffic in the marketplace, more often than not motorists find themselves lost or misled by slow and inaccurate traffic data on their GPS screens.
Toyota Tsusho Electronics (Thailand), a subsidiary of Toyota Group Japan and manufacturer of embedded software for automotive applications, is now offering what it claims to be the country’s highest quality and most accurate real-time traffic information service for motorists. Launched in July, the TSquare Traffic Information service offers information covering 24,000 routes in greater Bangkok and 14,000 routes in the suburbs. Such data is sourced from GPS information, transferred in from 10,000 taxis, the highest amount of data sources in the capital. Itti Rittaporn, general manager of content for the electric vehicle department at Toyota Tsusho Electronics, said the company spent over 50 million baht to instal GPS in taxis belonging to their networks.
To process the traffic data, Amazon’s cloud system and software engines from a Chinese company called CenNavi Technologies is used. CenNavi also provides software that processes data traffic in 30 cities in China. “Our system is designed to enable the GPS to deliver data location every three to five seconds compared with other commercial systems that send in data every 30 seconds to one minute. The higher number of data sources means more accurate data,” said Dr Itti.
The device also sets parameters for different car speeds depending on the type of roads being navigated on, including main roads, secondary roads and sois in residential areas. For instance, a red-coloured indicator will indicate heavy traffic, yellow means moderate traffic and green less congestion. “Thailand is the first country in Asean to have such high-quality traffic information with over 70% accuracy. This is on par with developed countries like Japan that have 65-75% accuracy in their traffic information. China’s traffic data accuracy is also around 70%,” said Dr Itti.
Toyota Tsusho hopes to differentiate its services from rivals such as Google’s free online traffic map and local traffic information providers and state agencies that deliver only 40-65% accuracy. Dr Itti said Toyota Motor Thailand is the first customer to use its traffic data in Toyota’s Smart G-Book mobile application. The company also developed its own mobile application for Android-based smartphones. Users can download its application for free from the Google Play application store and get a 15-day free trial. A subscription is needed for long-term use, costing 10 baht per week, 30 baht per month or 240 baht per year for users with AIS, DTAC and TrueMove H 3G mobile coverage.
Apple iPhone users will also be able to download the app soon, under the name “Longdo Traffic TSquare”. The app was co-developed with Metamedia, a Bangkok-based company. It will cost around US$3.99 for three months of usage. “We aim for 2% of smartphone users to become our customers,” said Dr Itti.
The company will also offer its service to other Japanese car makers such as Honda and Nissan for their in-car GPS navigation systems.
Dr Itti said in the near future the company will provide value-added services, particularly data analytics from large pools of data collected from over 50 million GPS chips every day. Such data can be analyzed to see where the most popular routes are, as well as places and times for taxis to pool. The service can be used with portable navigation devices and map providers to make route suggestions for drivers based on traffic and points of interest.For example, the service will show the nearest exchange service kiosks for tourists in a congested area.
Over the longer term, Toyota Tsusho will cooperate with Japanese laboratories to research how traffic data can be used to manage traffic light signals to reduce traffic jams. “We hope the data can be used to make predictions that help decision-makers in road planning and construction,” said Dr Itti.
In 2013 the company plans to expand to Jakarta and the Middle East. “We aim to break even by 2013 and start gaining profits in 2014,” he said, adding that apart from taxis, the company installed 250 GPS chips in trucks for traffic information on major roads throughout the country. He added a study found using live traffic data can facilitate increases in road utilization by 10%, saving commuters 15% in time, and reducing energy waste and CO2 emissions by 30% each.
There are plans to use this data traffic facility to develop a new service called ‘TSquare Taxi’ that enables users to monitor the location of a particular taxi they call for pickup. “We talked with smart-TV makers Samsung about bundling this application with their TVs. People will be able to monitor the taxi via their smart-TV at home,” he said. This would be useful for parents eager to ensure their children’s safety while traveling in a taxi. Users can send the vehicle license plate via SMS to a system that automatically transfers the car’s location onto the TV screen.
หนังสือพิมพ์บางกอกโพสต์ ฉบับวันที่ 29 สิงหาคม 2555 เผยแพร่ข่าวของ “TSQUARE TRAFFIC”