The NEC Corporation has opened a new Mobility Test Center to support the development of smart mobility and smart city solutions. The Center is Located in Gotemba City in central Japan, and consists of a test track that is roughly 100 meters long that has been outfitted with 5G base stations and edge processing equipment.
The track is designed to simulate a real-world driving environment, with traffic lights, cars, and pedestrian crossings. However, the ultimate goal is to determine how well self-driving cars perform in those settings. The 5G technology at the track allows a car to communicate with other cars, and with the surrounding city infrastructure. For example, a traffic light could tell the car that the light up ahead is red, while a connected computer vision camera could warn the car about a traffic jam, hazardous conditions, or a lane closure further up the road.
The cars would also be able to communicate with cellular devices, allowing them to determine the locations of pedestrians in the area. Cameras could similarly be pointed at blind spots to make sure that cars have some forewarning should those pedestrians move toward the road.
NEC will test vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-vehicle, and vehicle-to-everything technologies in collaboration with multiple partner companies over the course of the next fiscal year. The vehicle-to-vehicle technology can be used in conjunction with computer vision cameras to improve the flow of traffic and prevent collisions. The on-site vehicle fleet includes buses, trucks, and passenger cars in addition to pedestrian equipment like electric wheelchairs.
“NEC aims to contribute to the creation of safe, secure, and people-friendly cities by utilizing this NEC Mobility Center as a place for co-creation with partner companies,” said NEC Cross-Industry Unit GM Yuji Onoda.
NEC has spent the past few years working to develop smart city infrastructure all over the world. The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of New South Wales, after coming to a similar agreement with the Spanish province of Cordoba.