Toyota Motor Corporation has launched its updated Sora Fuel Cell Electrified Vehicle bus (FCEV bus) with improvements to its preventive safety performance. Specifically, Toyota has improved the Sora’s preventive safety performance through the use of ITS functions (ITS: Intelligent Transport Systems). Additionally, the Sora’s transportation capacity, speed, and punctuality have been expanded.
As a public transport bus, the Sora requires both a high operation rate and high safety performance at all times. To this end, the updated model includes a function that cautions the driver when making right turns at intersections, and a system that enables passengers to activate an emergency stop in urgent situations, such as if the driver suddenly falls ill.
The updated Sora is equipped with a new system that shares information on the distance between the vehicles, to prevent two or more buses traveling in a convoy from being separated at traffic lights and bus stops, leading to overall improvements in transportation capacity, speed, and punctuality of the buses.
New features include:
ITS Connect Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communication System (DSSS, Driving Safety Support Systems). Infrastructure devices and vehicles share information on oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic lights to increase driver awareness. Specific functions include: Right-turn Collision Caution; Red Light Caution; Red Light Deceleration Assist; and Signal Change Advisory.
Emergency Driving Stop System (EDSS). If an urgent situation occurs, such as the driver suddenly falling ill, this system allows the driver or passengers to press the emergency brake switch to decelerate the bus and bring it to a stop. The control system has been designed specifically for public transport buses, where the safety of standing passengers is crucial. As the bus starts to decelerate, red flashing lights and a voice alert passengers to the emergency; those outside the vehicle and nearby are alerted to the emergency via a horn and flashing stop lights and hazard lights.
Collision Warning System. If the millimeter-wave radar installed at the front of the bus detects there is a risk of colliding with a vehicle or obstacle ahead on the road, it alerts the driver with a warning buzzer and activates a warning notification on the monitor screen. The system considers the safety of standing passengers and seated passengers who have not fastened their seatbelts, and supports the driver in avoiding collisions by assisting with steering.
ITS Connect Vehicle-Convoy Information Service. The service uses information on buses, bus order, and distance between buses traveling in a convoy to prevent the convoy from being separated at traffic lights and bus stops; this contributes to improved transportation capacity, speed, and punctuality.
Vehicle-Convoy Recognition Function.Using vehicle-to-vehicle communications and millimeter-wave radars, the system recognizes information―within the limits of maximum bus numbers for any given section―on the buses, bus order, and distance between buses traveling in convoy, and notifies drivers of the convoy size.
Vehicle-Convoy Function. In order to ensure that the entire convoy can pass through a set of traffic lights at the same time, the last bus in the convoy sends a request to the traffic lights to remain green for an extended period of time. Vehicle-to-vehicle communications and millimeter-wave radars are used to recognize the formation of a vehicle convoy.
Bus Stop-Start Information System. This system recognizes when customers board and alight from buses traveling in convoy, and helps ensure the entire convoy leaves the bus stop at the same time.
ITS Connect Communicating Radar Cruise Control. The buses are equipped with all-speed radar cruise control, which supports smooth acceleration and deceleration. If a preceding vehicle is also equipped with communicating radar cruise control, the bus uses information shared via vehicle-to-vehicle communications to respond rapidly to the acceleration and deceleration of the preceding vehicle, which enables the buses to follow smoothly. The system also contributes to the maintenance of a constant inter-vehicle distance when traveling in a convoy on dedicated bus roads, and to the stable driving speed of the vehicles that follow.
Automatic Arrival Control System (Optional). The system detects guidance lines on the road surface and automatically steers and decelerates the bus, causing the bus to stop at the designated boarding and alighting location, and minimizing the gap to the bus stop itself. This assists boarding and alighting for passengers using strollers or wheelchairs.
The newly added Emergency Driving Stop System, Collision Warning System, Automatic Arrival Control, ITS Connect Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communication System, and ITS Connect Communicating Radar Cruise Control were jointly developed by Hino Motors and Isuzu Motors. Vehicle-Convoy Information Service and ITS Connect Wave-Type Public Transportation Priority System with Vehicle Convoy Recognition Function were jointly developed by these two companies and Toyota.
Sora is equipped with two 114 kW Toyota Fuel Cell stacks and two 114 kW AC synchronous drive motors, along with 10 70 MPa tanks holding 600 liters of hydrogen and a NiMH battery.