ITS Column

History of Initiatives to Create the ITS Business

Koji Ukena CEO, UK-Consultant (Former Director, ITS Business Development Center, Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ltd.)

Koji Ukena
CEO, UK-Consultant
(Former Director, ITS Business Development Center, Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ltd.)

About twenty years ago, Panasonic consolidated ITS road traffic infrastructure, automotive equipment, and digital wireless systems business, and established the ITS Business Development Center, which would create a new road traffic business, within the then Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ltd.

  1. Creation of the TELEMATICS Business
    Against the backdrop of increasing momentum towards the introduction of electronics technology to the traffic sector, the ITS Business Development Center was established in response to expectations that ITS would be a promising business. Existing business divisions were in charge of the development of car navigation and ETC systems, and the ITS Business Development Center was in charge of the development of infrastructures, including the HELPNET (eCall) and communication navigation systems, as well as the development of a business that crossed the borders of business divisions handling individual terminals. The center started developing TELEMATICS, a new technology that connects people, vehicles and infrastructures through information and communications systems. It promoted the development of mobile phone-based traffic-related information and communications technology targeting the global market while working with staff in EU member nations, including Germany.
  2. Public relations initiatives
    As a board member of the ITS World Congress, I worked for the establishment of globally standardized social systems for roads and traffic. As a Japanese representative, I continued to make recommendations based on the concepts to improve drivers' convenience and safety, along with improving traffic efficiency, and protecting the environment, by linking traffic infrastructure including VICS, which sends traffic jam information, to automotive equipment. Meanwhile, I extended public relations targeting a wide scope of providers of digital maps, which would be a key element.
  3. Construction of an ITS evaluation test facility
    The ITS business required an internal system to simultaneously evaluate road traffic infrastructure facilities and in-vehicle equipment. Accordingly, we completed the construction of a comprehensive ETC system evaluation test facility on the Hanamaki Plant premises in September 1997 to conduct evaluations by running actual cars with in-vehicle ETC terminals installed. The facility became the largest test track operated by Japanese electric appliance or communication equipment manufacturers, which contributed to the creation of ETC systems with high reliability and quality.

The above statement summarizes the initiatives we implemented in the 20th century aiming to create a business at the dawn of ITS. In the 21st century, the ITS business has come into bloom with products including car navigation systems and ETC, and continued to contribute to the development of a safer traffic society around the world as well as that of a driving culture. I still think that we were able to have advantages during the initial stage of ITS through our management system, which enabled the simultaneous launch of infrastructures and in-vehicle terminals while linking these two businesses. As a result, we were able to enter the service business and concurrently release terminals. The company is an unrivaled global ITS company, which will be able to promote businesses that range from road traffic infrastructures to in-vehicle terminals. I am convinced that the company will achieve the creation of a safe and comfortable road traffic society in the future, and continue to contribute to individuals on the move, including the elderly.

Transportation Innovations Achieved by Automated Driving

Prof. Yoshihiro SUDA, Dr. Eng. Director of Advanced Mobility Research Center Institute of Industrial Science The University of Tokyo

Prof. Yoshihiro SUDA, Dr. Eng.
Director of Advanced Mobility Research Center
Institute of Industrial Science
The University of Tokyo

There is always a standard that is loved by users regardless of the era or type of product. Although I don't intend to flaunt my personal preferences, I have a soft spot for novelties and refuse to use any products that do not suit my tastes. This habit tends to determine a standard brand for each product that I use. When I look closely at various pieces of equipment used in my lab at the university or electrical appliances at home, I realize just how many Panasonic products I own.

I have been favoring Let's Note laptops for quite some time, going back to earlier models. I may have gone through more than 10 of them by now. Other such products include digital cameras, TVs, air-conditioners, and rice cookers, amounting to a significant number. Experimental traffic lights installed at the Chiba Experiment Station of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science in Nishi-Chiba are also Panasonic-made. I believe that Panasonic products are chosen because their novelty and user perspective incorporated in products are well balanced.

I hear that Panasonic, who has been playing an active role in the ITS industry such as with traffic control systems, batteries, and sensors, is finally setting foot in the automated driving system market. They even built a test facility that allows the operation of self-driving vehicles in Yokohama. I visited its test course the other day and thought that, as with Panasonic's former ITS test field located in Hanamaki, it effectively uses the compact space not only to implement test runs but also to conduct V2X and parking tests and trials for linking the system to traffic lights, achieving a good balance of novelty and user perspective. Automakers' test courses are often located in a remote mountain or other secluded areas; however, Panasonic's test course is built adjacent to their research and development site, demonstrating their attitude of valuing a setup that allows the seamless inclusion of user requests.

I believe that automated driving will soon bring about transportation innovations. It is highly likely that the mobility movement to share the use of self-driving vehicles will spread based on conventional models that include manually driven vehicles. I anticipate that this trend will be led by the existing automobile industry, newcomer IT industry, or existing traffic operators. The development of a business ecosystem for automated driving is desired. I look forward to witnessing contributions to such ecosystems by Panasonic who maintains a good balance of novelty and user perspective.

Experimental traffic lights installed at the Chiba Experiment Station of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science in Nishi-Chiba

Experimental traffic lights installed at the Chiba Experiment Station of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science in Nishi-Chiba

Panasonic Future ITS

Senior Vice President, Automotive Business, AIS Company, Panasonic Corporation

Masahisa Shibata
Senior Vice President, Automotive Business, AIS Company, Panasonic Corporation

Panasonic is one of a few companies who can provide automotive devices, HMI equipment for drivers and transportation infrastructure.
Panasonic is targeting to realize a better mobility by connecting vehicles and infrastructure utilizing advanced ICT.

For example, Panasonic will enhance capability of sensors mounted on vehicle, and also pursue developing technology to support safety driving by informing notice at very timely manner, which cannot get by sensors on vehicle perfectly but can get by V2X communication between vehicles and road side units.

On June 2016, Panasonic have opened its own driving test course next to YOKOHAMA R&D.
It is mainly for driving test and evaluation at lower speed driving.
From now on we will accelerate verify and evaluate cycle of our developing technology.
Through these action and review, Panasonic will contribute to realize a better society where anyone can transport in convenient and safety.

Please pay attention and expectation to Panasonic.

The driving test course next to YOKOHAMA R&D

The driving test course next to YOKOHAMA R&D