How come no one thought of this before?
Driving through heavy rainstorms can be brutal, not to mention dangerous. Windshield wipers typically work well enough thanks to their low, high, and intermittent speed settings. Could this technology be put to further use somehow? Toyota thinks so, hence its decision to team up with weather information provides Weathernews Inc.
According to Kyodo News, the two companies have begun tests that seek to improve the accuracy of rain forecasts by using real-time data from the operation of connected cars' windshield wipers. This testing just got underway late last month in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi Prefecture in central Japan.
For its part, Weathernews receives the wiper movement's data directly from Toyota's test cars through the internet. It then analyzes the information together with data collected from its existing observation network.
This network includes 13,000 locations throughout Japan. The company's basic premise is that windshield wiper operations correspond to the presence or absence of precipitation. Wiper speed indicates downpour strength. One main problem Weathernews has with its raincloud radar is that it can't detect precipitation from rainclouds at an altitude of 6,560 (2 kilometers) or below. At the same time, their on-ground tools are limited, and this is where mobile vehicles play a huge role; they can go where the radar cannot.
Toyota believes providing its drivers with up-to-date weather data plays a key role in road safety and, thanks to its vehicles gaining internet access, this can be done. It's simply one more feature connected cars can provide thanks to real-time vehicle data and information. Taking further advantage of what's essentially windshield wiper data is simply brilliant.
While testing has only just begun, we expect this to one day become integrated into a vehicle's safety suite of technologies. Toyota may just be the first automaker to offer it.