Short on Smart Policy, Japan's Smartest Transport Systems Catching on Gradually

A look at Japan's gradually spreading telematics system for delivering what may be the world's smartest way to drive.

Published: 29-Dec-2004

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has some of the most congested, confusing and cramped streets in the world. It also boasts some of the latest technology in zapping computerized data to millions of cars, delivering what may be the world's smartest way to drive.

Car navigation systems in Japan can quickly tell drivers which roads have traffic jams. Using a computerized FM radio broadcast system that collects and sends information from more than 28,000 infrared and radio-wave beacons installed along roads, they can also calculate how many seconds it would take to drive through virtually every block of the nation's cities and then find the fastest routes.

Yet only about a million vehicles -- of the 70 million on Japanese roads today -- take advantage of it.

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