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Japanese teen's anti-road rage car navigation idea wins prize

Ayano Kurogi shows her award certificate at Miyazaki Prefectural Sadowara High School in the city of Miyazaki on Nov. 11, 2021. (Mainichi/Kenta Somatani)

MIYAZAKI -- A high school freshman in this southwest Japan city has won a prize for devising a car navigation system that guides the driver to a safe place after detecting road rage.

    Ayano Kurogi, 16, a first-year student in the information technology course at Miyazaki Prefectural Sadowara High School, won an excellence award in the "IT Dream Contest 2021" for junior and senior high school students across the country, which is hosted by Kanagawa Institute of Technology.

    In the contest, applicants present their dreams for society and for new services that can be realized with information technology. Kurogi, who studies programming at school, commented, "I want to make this my future job, and develop things that make everyone say 'wow.'"

    Kurogi proposed a system that interlocks the car's navigation system with its dashcam. In her scheme, when someone shows aggressive driving behavior, such as veering to the side three times in a row, artificial intelligence will judge it as road rage. Touching the navigation display sends the information to police and security companies, and the driver is guided to a safe place, such as a nearby police station.

    A female relative of Kurogi's encountered road rage in the summer of 2020. Although the revised Road Traffic Act, which categorizes road rage as a crime of obstructive driving, went into effect on June 30 last year, Kurogi felt that it would be difficult to call police while driving when encountering road rage -- and there are no other established means to cope with it. It was then that she began to think of the new system.

    Ayano Kurogi's presentation in the final review is seen in this screengrab from the "IT Dream Contest 2021" website.

    There were 158 submissions to the IT Dream Contest this year. Fifteen individuals and groups including Kurogi advanced to a final review, and they delivered presentations online in late August.

    One of the judges praised Kurogi's proposal as meeting people's needs, and said she could sell the idea to insurance companies, calling it "an excellent dream in novelty and creativity."

    Tatsuaki Egawa, the information technology course chief at Kurogi's school, commented, "The system fits with the times, and perhaps it will be feasible in the near future."

    (Japanese original by Kenta Somatani, Miyazaki Bureau)

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