Home The Next Node on the Net: Your Car!

The Next Node on the Net: Your Car!

A new radio system developed in Australia is transforming the vehicles on the street into nodes on a network. The technology, designed by scientists at the University of Southern Australia’s Institute for Telecommunications Research, is an application called “Dedicated Short Range Communications” (DSRC). Using a combination of GPS and Wi-Fi, cars can communicate their location data to a central office, but it also enables them to communicate with each other.

The system was developed by Cohda Wireless, a company formed by several of university’s scientists in 2004. Cohda claims their system “dramatically outperforms all radios available in the world today.” They’ve designed the system to work in harsh radio environments – like cities, for example – where signals can easily be lost among the buildings and tunnels. With Cohda’s technology, vehicles can maintain links not just in urban canyons, but also at speeds in excess of 200 mph – although we hope no drivers around us ever put that to the test.

With the DSRC system in place, cars can become nodes on Muni-Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi hotspots, and home Wi-Fi networks. The possibilities are nearly limitless for what that could mean. Dealerships can diagnose vehicles cable-free, cars can receive real-time downloads of maps and traffic conditions, they could communicate wirelessly with toll stations, and the vehicles could even automatically download music from home PCs. (Or maybe iTunes Wi-Fi store? We don’t see why not.)

In addition the numerous applications that would make a connected car both useful and fun, there’s a public safety element to the system as well. Vehicles could alert their drivers of congestion and accidents, could help drivers safely perform maneuvers like lane changes, could help prevent collisions, and much more. As you traveled, the data about what lies on the road ahead could be relayed from car to car so there is no lag between when the tractor trailer overturned and when you, the driver five miles back, is informed of this. “This technology essentially equips vehicles with the ability to see around corners and predict and avoid dangerous situations,” said Professor Alex Grant of the ITR project.

Lest you think the connected vehicle is just a pipe dream that won’t be realized until sometime in the distant future, listen to this: Cohda Wireless has already completed over than 700 DSRC trials, for 15 distinct DSRC use-case scenarios, in the U.S., Italy and Australia. These trials covered over 10,000 km during which 100GB of random data was transmitted. The results of the trials proved how Cohda Wireless’ technology excelled over other in-vehicle Wi-Fi chipsets. The company is now saying the technology will be in wide release by 2012. That’s not too distant at all.

For more information about internet-connected objects, see “5 Companies Building an Internet of Things.”

Image credit: The Auto Channel

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