Toyota is working to get data to and from your car as fast as and as safely as possible and satellites might be the answer.
The Japanese automaker unveiled one of its flat-panel satellite communication vehicles at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in partnership with sat-comm company Kymeta. The hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota Mirai pictured above has been outfitted with Kymeta’s flat-panel satellite communication technology.
The Japanese carmaker aims to include Data Communication Modules in a wider range of future vehicles. Specifically, it’s considering satellite communication as the key technology.
Instead of relying on a bulky traditional satellite dish, Kymeta’s panels use liquid crystal technology to electronically track and steer toward satellites.
There are a few benefits of utilizing satellites to transfer data rather than cell towers or Wi-Fi transmitters. First of all, a high-capacity satellite can transport huge amounts of data to and from a vehicle quickly and much more safely (from a hacking standpoint) than an Internet connection. Additionally, unlike a tower-based connection, a continuous satellite connection can span between countries, borders and also in remote areas.
Another reason Toyota is warming up to flat-panel sat-comm is because it can be relatively easy to install in the aftermarket. That means that rather than being forced to buy a brand-new Toyota to get all the best data services, you could have your current car fitted with the tech. This would allow Toyota to indoctrinate more customers in its data services and also add to the number of cars it’s digitally tracking on the road.