MARYSVILLE — Honda unveiled its newest technology Thursday by driving passengers in two Pilot SUVs through downtown Marysville.
Journalists, government officials including Gov. John Kasich and industry leaders witnessed Honda’s demonstration of what Ted Klaus, vice president of strategic research at Honda R&D Americas Inc., called “the world’s most intelligent intersection.”
It employs a system designed to reduce collisions at intersections by alerting drivers to obstacles they can’t see because buildings block their vision. It comprises four cameras mounted on traffic light beams above the streets of the intersection, a box situated on the sidewalk and a computer and small screen inside a virtually connected vehicle.
The cameras “capture bird’s-eye-view video of surrounding vehicles and pedestrian traffic out to a 300-foot range. Honda’s proprietary image-processing software then creates a 360-degree image of the intersection that classifies vehicles and other moving objects, such as pedestrians, motorcycles and emergency vehicles, and broadcasts pertinent information to surrounding vehicles via a dedicated short-range communication signal,” Honda said in a release. “Each connected vehicle’s on-board computer decodes the information and, when necessary, provides both visible and audible alerts to the driver, intelligently supporting him to take corrective action to avoid a potential collision.”
The messages alert a driver to the approach of an emergency vehicle, a pedestrian or a car that’s running a red light. The system allows drivers to “see” around corners and through buildings to anticipate traffic that will cross their paths.
The project, 10 years in the making, was a partnership of Honda, the city of Marysville and Drive Ohio.
Before the demonstration, Kasich congratulated the firm on its accomplishment.
“This is about saving lives,” he said. “If your spouse is having a heart attack or falls off a ladder — and for some of these larger situations, the ability to get first responders there is critical. With this combination of technologies, pedestrians can be safer; drivers can be safer. Our state anticipated this. We’re risk-takers here. Between this town and Dublin, it’s going to be a whole new town here.”
Kasich was referring to the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, a 35-mile highway corridor just northwest of Columbus that connects the cities of Marysville and Dublin to Honda’s North America campus and points beyond. It has positioned itself to be a “proving ground for smart mobility technology,” according to its website.
During Thursday’s event, Marysville Mayor J.R. Rausch applauded what Honda has meant to his city.
“In 1973, the oil embargo caused a shift in auto manufacturing” to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, he said.
“Honda located here in 1979 and built motorcycles. In 1982, they began to produce cars. They have produced over 25 million vehicles and Marysville has tripled in size, from 8,000 to 24,000 residents,” Rausch said. “How we move goods and people is about to be transformed, and again, Honda and Ohio are leading the way. We are thankful that Honda decided to employ its smart intersection in their hometown.”
Honda engineers and developers see the intersection, an advanced driver assistance system, as the first step to a “perceptual bridge to the future,” Klaus told the crowd of about 100 people. “We need to take a more holistic approach. We have to understand the behavior of all road users, inside the vehicle and outside the vehicle. We have to insure that it makes sense in the real world. Honda believes that (vehicle to everything) technology is an essential component of a smarter and safer transportation ecosystem and can play a role in our dream for a zero-collision society.”
However, that can’t be accomplished by Honda, alone, he noted.
“It needs a high level of cooperation,” in order to meet the social and political challenges that will emerge. “This is just the first demonstration that showcases our partnership with Marysville and Ohio,” he said.
Honda has committed $2 million to research supporting the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, said Jim Keller, senior manager and chief engineer at Honda R&D Americas. Honda developed the technology of the smart intersection and paid for the first one. He could not say exactly what that cost.
“This was expensive, but the first step is always expensive,” he said. “It’s not Honda who will take the next step.”
There are no plans yet to put the smart intersection technology into Honda vehicles available to the public. Other cities must upgrade their infrastructures to employ the cameras and software. It took six months to install the system at one intersection in Marysville, and Keller noted that there is still “a lot of homework to do.”
“We’ve done a lot of testing on this. (The city of Marysville has) been very patient with us. We’ve worked from 10 p.m. ’til 2 in the morning. We’ve been six months installing the system. We’re encouraged by the level of excitement the employees have,” he said.