What are the risks that lead to traffic collisions? Analysis of collision data shows many causes, such as speeding, inattention and operation errors such as mistaking the brake for the accelerator.
These are the ultimate causes of collisions. However, the real risk lies in the feeling of anxiety drivers experience while driving. Every driver is feeling various concerns while driving. Some say they are worried about becoming a cause of a problem, and others say their concerns are more about themselves and their families. Some are worried about how they can stay away from collisions caused by others. Driving while feeling such anxiety has an effect on the driver, such as operating errors and a narrow field of vision.
Toshihiro Mibe, Honda Global CEO, announced that Honda will strive for zero traffic collision fatalities involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles globally by 2050. To eliminate, not just to reduce, fatal collisions, we must eliminate risks that lead to collisions.
Honda aims to realize a society in which people can travel with complete peace of mind. To this end, what we need is not only the mechanisms for automobiles and motorcycles, but technologies that support people.
Current safety technologies represented by ADAS (advanced driver-assistance system) use on-board sensors and
radar to detect situations inside and outside of the vehicle and assist the driver with braking and steering
These ADAS technologies are being researched and developed at an accelerating pace, and getting applied to an increasing number of vehicles, as can be seen by the mandatory inclusion of collision mitigation braking for all new cars sold in Japan from November 2021. Due also to changes in society and improved infrastructure, the number of traffic collision fatalities in Japan has declined to 2,839 in 2020, which is less than one-fifth of the 16,765 fatalities in 1970, which was the peak year in Japan.
Safety technologies such as ADAS are generally considered as measures for the time of, or immediately before a collision. In other words, these technologies are designed for collision avoidance and collision damage mitigation. Needless to say, it is important to further advance these technologies to make our vehicles safer.
However, advancement of automobile and motorcycle technologies and the traffic environment are not enough to realize zero traffic collision fatalities all over the world because “people” are the ultimate cause of traffic collisions. We want to build a society where people can enjoy mobility freely with total peace of mind by eliminating the worries and anxieties of people while driving and liberating people from the risk of collisions. The initial step Honda engineers took to address these fundamental challenges was to sincerely consider people issues.
Hideaki Takaishi, Executive Chief Engineer, Innovative Research Excellence, Honda R&D, shared the story about how the research in this field started and what kind of technologies resulted from the research.
Joined Honda in 1987. Takaishi worked in the area of mass-production model development, including serving as the project leader for the development of the first-generation Odyssey. After completing his assignment as an expat in the U.S., Takaishi joined the Corporate Planning Division in 2011. As a leading figure in the development of safety technologies of Honda, Takaishi assumed responsibility as General Manager of the Safety Planning Division in April 2021.
Takaishi It all began with considering the concerns and worries of our customers. Needless to say, there were a number of different concerns, and each customer experiences different concerns depending on the situation.
Takaishi Please take a look at these nine concerns we identified. Have you felt any of these during your routine driving? These worries cause driver operating errors and distraction. In other words, the feeling of anxiety has already heightened the risk of a collision before the collision actually occurs.
Takaishi When all these worries are eliminated, the driver will have peace of mind. This means the driver does not have to come close to risking a collision, but we want to go further and create a situation where the driver doesn’t even feel there are risks. Pursuing drivers’ peace of mind will lead to the realization of a society with zero traffic collision fatalities, and that is what Honda is striving for.
To bring such peace of mind to drivers, Honda has conducted a comprehensive study of human beings.
Takaishi In addition to discussions inside Honda, we conducted discussions with outside experts including some futurists to think about what our society will look like in the future. What became clear to us was that people’s desire to act on their own will become stronger. In other words, technology that does not cater to each individual’s desires and wishes will not be accepted. It is not only about fully automating mobility products and eliminating collisions. Honda’s goal is to enable people to drive with confidence, while having peace of mind.
Wouldn’t it be great if technologies can support insecure drivers to make no mistakes, or eliminate human error. One of the technologies to make this real is our Intelligent Driver-Assistive Technology.
Using MRI, we studied patterns in human brain activity. By analyzing brain activity during driving and their
relationship with risk-taking behavior, we are developing AI-powered technologies that can keep drivers away
from such risk and prevent them from overlooking potential risks.
To be more specific, these technologies prevent the driver from making operating errors, overlooking risks and making predictive errors by communicating risks with easy-to-understand visual displays, audio and tactile alerts and by offering AI-based driver assistive support.
These technologies give the driver confidence. For example, for novice drivers who tend to be preoccupied with looking straight ahead, the AI-based system will alert the driver to cars and pedestrians approaching from the side. For elderly drivers who are not confident in their responsiveness, the system can offer various support including operational assistance. Our next-generation driver-assistive technologies will enable all drivers to drive with peace of mind.
While developing technologies to eliminate worries and anxieties for each and every driver to boost their confidence, Honda is also taking initiatives toward safety for everyone sharing the road. We are currently developing the “Safe and Sound Network Technology” which connects people, mobility products and infrastructure via telecommunications to avoid various risks.
This technology connects and enables safe coexistence for everyone sharing the road. This system, which Honda is
developing based on its original research, estimates the behavior and situations of everyone sharing the road
and makes assessments about such information in an integrated manner to predict potential risk. By communicating
to each road user about such potential risks, the system will encourage drivers to take action to avoid a
collision before it happens. With this technology, we will strive to realize a collision-free mobility
Let me introduce the "Pedestrian Dart-out Prevention System” as one example of our “Safe and Sound Network Technology.” This systems connects drivers, riders and pedestrians via telecommunications, and once a pedestrian is likely to dart out into the road, the system immediately sends alerts to the pedestrian’s smartphone while also sending alerts to nearby drivers/riders. The system also predicts potential dangers hidden in an area with poor visibility and shares this information with nearby road users. By sharing information that people cannot recognize on their own, the system enhances peace of mind of everyone sharing the road.
Takaishi Honda’s safety slogan is “Safety for Everyone.” Although this slogan represents Honda’s passion toward realizing safety for all people, we do not say “Safety for All.” This is because Honda is not aiming to realize safety by applying uniform safety systems and technologies for everyone using the road. We say “Safety for Everyone” because Honda strives to create a safe society where everyone can enjoy mobility with peace of mind, and we will do this while respecting the will of each individual.
Honda aims to realize zero traffic collision fatalities involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles globally by 2050. Motorcycles and automobiles combined, Honda is the world’s largest manufacturer of mobility products, and therefore we will strive to bring peace of mind to everyone on the planet.
Japan is one of the most advanced countries regarding traffic safety. One of the reasons why the world’s first production car with a Level 3 automated driving system was realized in Japan is because the necessary laws and regulations were promptly enacted, and CMBS is already mandatory for new automobiles sold in Japan, three years ahead of Europe which plans to mandate it in July 2024. With the addition of advanced technologies, it may be easy to visualize a safer society where people can enjoy mobility with peace of mind.
On a global scale, however, the biggest challenge is to address motorcycle collisions in developing nations. Looking at the Asian market, over 20 million motorcycles are sold in India, with an additional 15 million in Southeast Asia, far greater than the number sold in Japan.
According to an analysis of collision classification in Thailand, approximately 75 percent of all traffic fatalities in Thailand involve motorcycles. One of the reasons for such a high rate of motorcycle collisions is the lack of rider education. In Thailand, it is not the custom to learn motorcycle riding skills at driving/riding schools like we do in Japan. As a result, the majority of motorcycle riders have no experience in taking rider skill training.
Another factor is that motorcycles are inexpensive and durable, lasting for many years. Due to the long product life of motorcycles, it takes a long time to go through the cycle of replacing old products with new products and start seeing the effect of applying advanced technologies. However, there is a device that is being adopted at an explosive pace, and is replaced continuously.
The smartphone. Honda is taking advantage of the quick advancement of telecommunication technologies to enable people to ride motorcycles with peace of mind. If we can connect everyone sharing the road with our “Safe and Sound Network Technology,” motorcycle riders and pedestrians can be better protected.
With utilization of smartphones, we will accelerate the realization of widespread availability of safety
education programs. Honda is operating traffic education centers in 38 countries worldwide (mainly in developing
nations), but we are also developing Honda Safety EdTech, a system to offer online traffic safety education
programs for people who do not have access to our education centers.
The Honda Safety EdTech uses AI-powered technologies to create a curriculum tailored to each user, including virtual training and driver coaching, which will enable the users to deepen their learning about traffic safety from anywhere at any time with the use of their smartphone.
Through these technologies and initiatives, we will not only eliminate traffic risks, but aim to realize a society where everyone can enjoy the freedom of mobility. To this end, Honda will go beyond the improvement of automobile and motorcycle performance and use any technologies including network technologies to make progress toward the realization of a society that provides enhanced peace of mind to everyone sharing the road.
Once zero traffic collision fatalities is achieved, safe mobility will be ensured, and everyone will enjoy the “freedom of being liberated from the risk of traffic collisions” where people can go anywhere, as they wish. That is the future society Honda envisions.
Takaishi We had many discussions about what “freedom” means in our society. Freedom does not mean doing whatever we want, which may lead to endangering people around us. At Honda, our definition of “freedom” is closer to “autonomy.” We can go places through our own power, so we control our mobility as our own responsibility. It is close to the floating feeling we experienced when we were able to ride a bicycle for the first time. Following our curiosity, we expand our world further and further from home, open ourselves up to new discoveries. By continuing to make new discoveries, we can make our lives more enjoyable. That is how Honda thinks.
That excitement we felt in our childhood, pushing the pedals on our bicycle, feeling we could go anywhere... Honda wants people everywhere in the world to experience that feeling. At this moment, we may sound like dreamers, but we are moving forward one step at a time, envisioning the path to realize our goal of zero traffic collision fatalities.*The information in this article is true and accurate at the time of publication, November 29, 2021.