Cars are entering a new era of connected and even autonomous vehicles. Majority of car manufacturers imagine future when cars will be able to communicate with each other to exchange important information about traffic conditions, routes and so on. Although current internet connectivity can satisfy most of these requirements, Toyota is introducing cars with satellite communications technology.
Everyone has seen how satellite receivers look like – rather big, bowl-shaped objects. Surely, carrying it on a car would not be acceptable, therefore better receivers have to be used. This is why Toyota is presenting technology, developed by Kymeta, U.S.-based company, on its Mirai car. These next-generation satellite antennas do not need mechanical components, because it uses unique software and liquid crystal technologies to electronically track and face satellites. Because such antenna is light and flat, it is easy to integrate it into the design of the automobile or even to install it later.
There may be questions why satellite communication is needed, since internet connectivity is rather good these days and satellite communication might be very expensive. But Toyota notes several benefits of satellite communication. Firstly, it is able to distribute a huge amount of data to the vehicle. Secondly, satellites cover a much broader area, which allows sharing information between vehicles across borders of states. Finally, connection is more stable and secure, which is especially important in cases of emergencies such as natural disasters.
Shigeki Tomoyama, Senior Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: “For several years, Toyota met with emerging companies around the world to investigate new technologies. We were very excited to learn about Kymeta, because their flat antennae technology could solve the challenge of vehicle-based satellite communications”. Researching on the possibilities to use satellite communication on cars started back in 2013. Mirai offers the best platform for it, as it is one of the most futuristic cars on the market. It is powered by hydrogen and offers electric car appeal with conventional car convenience.
Toyota is going to continue working in the area of connected cars and satellite technology integration. We can expect it to become very useful in company’s ambitions to create autonomous cars, but we have to wait and see when satellite technology will be available for Toyota customers.