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GM Uses Super-sized Antenna for Wireless Testing

Vehicle-sized electronically modulated spherical near-field antenna testing system (ATS), GM calls it, but it’s nothing more than a oversized, super-capable wireless antenna. One which, says GM, could change the way in which drivers experience services like XM satellite radio and OnStar.

The technology, used by the car maker to optimize satellite antenna design and placement on its vehicles, is half the size of the St. Louis Gateway Arch and costs $750,000. 103 probes send beams signals to a rotating platform on which the car being tested is located, to see how the signal is received and where the antenna should be placed for optimum coverage.

“The ATS system lets us test the antenna systems on the GMC Yukon Denali in virtually every possible real-world condition,” said Janalee Graham, who runs the rig. “What would take other automakers days of testing can be done in minutes with this system.”

The huge gadget is one of only two such systems currently in operation around the world and was developed by GM together with the Societe d’Applications Technologiques de l’Imagerie Micro-Onde (SATIMO).

Theoretically, the system is so good that it enables GM to virtually eliminate problems with weak signals in remote areas. The woman in charge with running the ATS says that, when tested in remote parts of the country on an actual vehicle, the benefits of using the ATS are most visible.

And, if you're the owner of a new GMC Yukon Denali, you might have a clue about what GM is talking about. The results of the work conducted using the ATS have materialized in the antennas used on these vehicles, with more models to benefit it in the future.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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