Toyota has been developing a vehicle based on the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. Featured on Toyota’s stand at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, this vehicle comes equipped with Kymeta’s satellite communications technology.
U.S. based Kymeta is known for its technology related to flat-panel antennas. Toyota however is not just including this satellite communications technology in its vehicle but will also work to improve connected technologies. It even has a plan to include a Data Communication Module to a wider range of its products.
In fact, Toyota plans to have satellite communication in future models. In particular, Toyota is working on high capacity satellites that provides better rate of transfer for data compared to the traditional satellite technologies. These types of satellites typically need to have a dish-type antenna installed on the ground.
However, the satellite antennas from Kymeta will have no more need for any of the mechanical components as it utilizes liquid crystal technologies and software to be able to steer and track satellites electronically. Since the antenna is flat and lightweight, it can be integrated to the vehicle easily either when it is being assembled or even after it is already sold.
Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Officer Shigeki Tomoyama shared that over a number of years, the company has been meeting with new companies to study new technologies. Tomoyama added that the company was excited to know about Kymeta as its flat antennae technology can help sold a number of issues related to vehicle-based satellite communications.
There are three main advantages that satellite communications can offer to the automotive industry. The first is that it allows a large amount of data to be distributed to the vehicle. The second is that since it covers a wide range of areas, it helps in deploying connected vehicles that have common standards on a global scale. The third is that it offers both secure and stable communications especially in emergency situations like that of natural disasters.
Kymeta CEO Dr. Nathan Kundtz said that the company is more than excited to work with Toyota especially when it comes to next generation technology related to vehicle connectivity. Kymeta is the first to effectively provide this technology and it already has more than 8,000 miles of road testing through cars that are connected to a satellite.
Toyota and Kymeta have been researching together, since September 2013, a flat antenna that can be fixed to the car and that’s able to keep up with the large amount of data delivered by the satellite to the vehicle. Since Toyota had the exclusive right to develop and test this antenna, it offered Kymeta the use of its research vehicles for any test drive.
The current progress of this research will be at the Mirai that is displayed at the 2016 NAIAS. To expand research and development on this technology, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership invested the amount of $5 million in Kymeta.
Toyota is an investor at Mirai Creation Investment LP. As a result of this investment, Toyota anticipates that its joint research with technology company Kymeta will speed up. Toyota says it will continue to develop connected car technology and introduce satellite communications to provide improved car experience for its customers.