Toyota has unveiled a research vehicle equipped with satellite communications technology as it seeks to further enhance its connected car technologies.
The Japanese car maker has been working with US-based Kymeta, a company that specialises in flat-panel antenna technology, since September 2013. The two firms have been developing and testing on-car flat antennae to support satellite distribution of huge amounts of data to a vehicle.
Kymeta’s flat antenna technology enables information to be sent and received between connected cars and satellites, according to Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation.
“For several years, Toyota met with emerging companies around the world to investigate new technologies,” he said. “We were very excited to learn about Kymeta, because their flat antennae technology could solve the challenge of vehicle-based satellite communications.”
While conventional satellite technologies have historically required the use of a “dish” antenna on the ground, Kymeta’s satellite antennas remove the need for mechanical components by using software and liquid crystal technologies to electronically track and steer towards satellites, Toyota explained.
The lightweight, flat profile of the antenna also allows for seamless integration during vehicle assembly or easy aftermarket installation, the car maker said.
So what are the benefits of satellite communications when it comes to connected vehicles?
Besides the distribution of greater amounts of data, satellites provide broad coverage areas and enable the deployment of connected vehicles that share common standards across national borders — potentially saving on roaming charges, for instance. They can also offer more stable and secure communications, particularly in emergencies such as natural disasters.
“We’re excited to be working with Toyota on this next generation of vehicle connectivity,” commented Dr. Nathan Kundtz, CEO of Kymeta. “Kymeta is the first company to successfully demonstrate this type of technology, and we have over 8,000 miles of road testing with cars connected to satellites.”
Tags: connected car