Toyota Mirai-based research vehicle with satellite communications function (2016 Detroit Auto Show)

2016 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota exhibits a Mirai-based research vehicle with satellite communications function

On January 12, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled a Mirai-based research vehicle mounted with satellite communications technology from the US-based company Kymeta.

Toyota is currently working towards enhancing its connected technologies, which include the installation of Data Communication Module into a broader range of its models. In the future, Toyota is eyeing the possibility of using satellite communications because of its higher data transfer rates.

Satellite communications offer many merits to meet automotive needs, such as the distribution of huge amounts of data to a vehicle, the broad coverage areas and global deployment of connected vehicles that share common standards across national borders, and a more stable and secure communications, especially in emergencies such as natural disasters.

To receive signals, conventional satellite antennas have a curved surface. Meanwhile, Kymeta’s satellite antennas use a software and liquid crystal technologies to electronically track and steer towards satellites. The downsized and flat profile of the antenna is perfect for vehicle installation.

Since September 2013, Toyota and Kymeta have been jointly researching on-car flat antenna that supports satellite distribution of huge amounts of data to a vehicle. Because Kymeta has the exclusive right for the development and testing of the on-car antenna, Toyota lent them research vehicles for test driving. The Mirai displayed as a reference exhibit at the auto show represents the progress of the efforts towards satellite communication function.

Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Officer Shigeki Tomoyama said: “For several years, Toyota met with emerging companies around the world to investigate new technologies. We were very excited to learn about Kymeta, because their flat antennae technology could solve the challenge in vehicle-based satellite communications.”

(Translated by Katherine N. Bantiles)