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Japanese city testing AI-, LED-equipped road mirror to prevent intersection collisions

A convex safety mirror equipped with a light and AI technology is seen in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Feb. 16, 2022. (Mainichi/Hideyuki Yamada)
A representative from rear-view mirror manufacturer Murakami Corp. explains the mechanism of the light-up convex mirror in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Feb. 16, 2022. (Mainichi/Hideyuki Yamada)

FUJIEDA, Shizuoka -- The government of this central Japan city is testing out a traffic safety mirror equipped with LEDs and artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent all-too-frequent accidents at intersections.

    The convex mirror set up at an intersection near a municipal elementary school in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, has a motion sensor camera linked to an AI system. The AI technology recognizes trucks, passenger cars and motorcycles approaching the intersection and lights up the safety mirror to urge the drivers to stop or slow down. The Fujieda government says that the 13-day test -- set to run until Feb. 28 -- is one of the first of its kind in Japan.

    According to the city, intersection collisions make up about 30% of local traffic accidents. The intersection near Aoshimahigashi Elementary School, where the test mirror was installed, has seen eight collisions over the past five years.

    The motion sensor camera watches the south and east sides of the intersection, and when a vehicle approaches, LEDs in the mirror frame flash. When vehicles come from both sides, the mirror frame light as well as the light inside the mirror flash to alert the drivers. The city will examine the effect of the mirror in preventing accidents by comparing the speed of the vehicles passing through the intersection before and during the test period.

    The AI technology used in the camera was developed by electronic communications technology giant Oki Electric Industry Co., and the light-up mirror by rear-view mirror manufacturer Murakami Corp. Those involved in the project held a briefing session attended by community association heads and others at Aoshimahigashi Elementary School on Feb. 16, when the mirror's light flashing function was turned on. There, a representative from Murakami Corp. described the mechanism of the new convex mirror.

    Fujieda Mayor Shohei Kitamura said, "We won't let intersection collisions (in the city) go unaddressed. If the test proves the mirror to be useful, we'll gradually install them at dangerous zones, mainly near schools. We want to protect children from traffic accidents." Fujieda Police Station chief Yoshihiro Edamura commented, "I hope it proves to be effective. We want to eradicate tragic accidents from the city."

    (Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

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