Friday, May 13, 2016

Adventure Tech: Land Cruisers Used as Wireless Network in the Outback

Staying in communication with the rest of the world while traveling through a remote landscape can be difficult and expensive. But a new project sponsored by Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia,  automaker Toyota, and a communications and advertising agency called Saatchi & Saatchi shows off a new concept that uses a fleet of Land Cruisers as mobile WiFi network that can keep travelers in contact, even when miles away from an Internet connection or cell network.

The Land Cruiser is one of the most popular expedition and adventure travel vehicles on the planet, often found in remote places where few other motorized vehicles can go. That's true in the Outback of Australia too, with travelers using them to wander far from civilization. Recently, Toyota equipped some of those SUV's with a new device that creates a network between other vehicles in the area, with data being shared between these mobile hotspots until it can be handed off to a unit that is also within range of a permanent Internet connection.

These high-tech communications devices have a range of 25 km (15.5 miles) and can handle both voice and data. That makes them useful for making emergency calls from a remote place, or sharing social media updates while in the field. It uses standard WiFi, UHF signals, and Delay Tolerant Networks (DTN) to help pass along the data. The information can hop from Land Cruiser to Land Cruiser until it finds one with an Internet connection, at which point it is send out to the rest of the world.

The video below gives you an idea of how the whole thing works. It seems like it has a lot of promise for communications in remote places. 


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