Toyota Thinks Connected Wiper Data Can Improve Weather Forecasts
Toyota and Japanese weather information provider Weathernews Inc. have been running tests aimed at improving the accuracy of rain forecasts by using driving data from connected cars — or, more specifically, their windshield wipers. Based on the assumption that wiper operations correspond with the presence of precipitation, matching the severity to speed settings, the pair feel they can leverage customer information to close info gaps created by low-altitude rain clouds that are difficult to track.
With an official announcement issued earlier this month, both companies are framing this as an effective way to bolster roadway safety and offer new services to its customers. But it also raises the usual round of privacy concerns re: connected vehicles, while potentially offering some interesting and useful features — like localized flood warnings and other traffic advisories.
In recent years, the growing severity of weather phenomena and the resulting damage have become a societal issue, and there is an unprecedented demand for local, immediate weather information, as well as information on how to respond. To meet these needs, it is necessary to determine more detailed and accurate weather conditions in real-time. However, existing weather observation tools have limitations in their installation locations and measurement intervals.
Meanwhile, the development of IoT technology has ushered in an age where various devices are equipped with communication functions. The same is true for vehicles, and by gathering driving data and condition data from connected vehicles equipped with IoT technology, it is possible to detect phenomena that could impact their driving and behavior.
Potentially, sure, but amassing enough useful data to allow meteorologist to start making useful assumptions will take time. In the short term, the only real benefit you could expect is more accurate forecasting for your immediate area.
Basically, your car transmits data to Toyota and the bit about whether or not you’ve got your wipers on is then forwarded to Weathernews. The data also works in tandem with information collected an existing meteorological observation network of some 13,000 locations across Japan. The duo have also put together an AI algorithm that predicts flooded locations on roads, with verification testing taking place in October — suggesting they’ll be able to do more than simply let people know how hard its raining.
For now, it’s limited to Japan. Toyota aims to have the brunt of its fleet connected to the internet as soon as possible, meaning there’s nothing stopping these kinds of data partnerships from spreading to other markets. We’ll let you debate whether or not that’s desirable.
[Image: What Photo/Shutterstock]
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