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Toyota Brought a Mirai Research Vehicle with Satellite Communications to Detroit

Toyota’s stand at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show featured a concept vehicle made to research new satellite communication functions.
Toyota Mirai Research Vehicle 5 photos
Toyota Mirai Kymeta Research VehicleToyota Mirai Kymeta Research VehicleToyota Mirai Kymeta Research VehicleToyota Mirai Kymeta Research Vehicle
The research vehicle is based on a Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car and features a flat-panel satellite antenna on its roof. The antenna is developed by Kymeta, a US-based company that’s a world leader in this particular technology.

The idea behind this research vehicle is to develop a distinctive Data Communications Module for the Toyota range. Thanks to the new antenna technology, these cars could benefit from higher speed data transfer and make use of the high-capacity satellites orbiting Earth.

Improved antenna technology could allow the distribution of “huge amounts of data to a vehicle,” an improvement that could be Toyota’s solution to a connected autonomous vehicle infrastructure. Such a technical solution would involve self-driving cars that notify each other about detected road hazards and use maps that are updated on a daily basis.

Unlike those big satellite dishes of the past, the new technology from Kymeta works with liquid crystals and software that electronically track and steer towards satellites. The antenna remains flat throughout use and has a low profile and reduced weight. From the beginning, the system was developed to be easily integrated into the production line and even in aftermarket applications.

Toyota and Kymeta have been working together on this antenna technology since September 2013. Toyota has lent the company a fleet of vehicles for test driving proposes, which have already made over 8,000 miles of road testing the new technology.

The NAIAS 2016 exhibit in Toyota’s stand marks the engineering progress reached by this technology in a little over two years of development. Hopefully, the two partners will develop a way to make the antennas smaller, so they could be effortlessly integrated into cars without being so easily spotted.

Toyota is also supporting Kymeta with its Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership fund, as the Japanese brand provided them with a $5 million investment.

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