LONDON --- Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) have been under development for more than a decade and the promise of road-infrastructure based traffic management is still years away. However, some car manufacturers are moving ahead with autonomous radar-based obstacle detection systems, according to a new study from ABI Research. 

"Vehicle manufacturers are mainly interested in active safety as a new differentiator," said ABI Research Practice Director Dominique Bonte. "However, avoiding accidents has a huge impact on traffic congestion levels, the reduction of which remains the primary goal of ITS." 

Toyota is planning to add a millimeter-wave radar system to some of its car models in Japan in 2009. The driver is warned about potential side and front collisions. When a crash is imminent, automatic braking, seat belt retraction and air bag deployments are initiated. In the U.S., a similar pre-collision system will be available on the 2010 Toyota Prius as an option. A similar feature was announced by Hyundai at the Consumer Electronics Show.  However, the current automotive slump will delay the adoption of active safety as a standard option across all brands, ABI noted. 

To realize the benefits of integrated traffic management, ITS requires vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. While many successful tests based on the Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) protocol are ongoing in Japan (ITS-Safety 2010 project), Europe (ERTICO, CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium) and the U.S. (DoT's IntelliDriveSM project), full rollout is not expected before 2015. 

In the meantime, several subcomponents of ITS are in place. The Toll Collect consortium introduced GPS-based electronic road tolling in Germany in 2005 with more than 650,000 on-board units installed in trucks so far. In 2008, ERTICO's Road Charging Interoperability (RCI) project demonstrated seamless interoperable tolling technology in six EU countries. Automatic emergency calling is available with Onstar and Ford Sync in the U.S. and will be mandatory in Europe by 2013 via the eCall project. 

ABI Research's new report, titled "Intelligent Transportation Systems Market Overview," examines the main applications within this huge topic and how they are relevant to the global market. Business and market drivers and barriers are discussed for each region. This report is part of two ABI Research services, Telematics and Location Based Services.