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Kymeta Developing 5G Satellite Connected Car Technology

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【Summary】The Kymeta Corporation has been showing off a “connected car of the future.” The company is using a specialized roof-mounted satellite receiver that looks like a small flat dinner plate, which offers more connectivity without the need to create a network on the ground like 4G technology.

Original Eric Walz    Jul 17, 2017 3:37 PM PT
Kymeta Developing 5G Satellite Connected Car Technology

As drivers demand more high-tech features in thier cars, many new cars today are rolling off the assembly line with 4G connectivity built-in. However, Kymeta is pushing the limits with all-new 5G technology. The technology is faster high-speed satellite internet without the bulky satellite dish normally associated with it.

Recently, the Kymeta Corporation has been showing off a "connected car of the future." The company is using a specialized roof-mounted satellite receiver that looks like a small flat dinner plate, which offers more connectivity without the need to create a network on the ground like 4G technology.

Partnership with Toyota

Back In 2016 at the North American Auto Show, Kymeta and Toyota showed off their collaboration on a satellite antenna system that can send data to cars at broadband speeds.

A hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle was unveiled equipped with a Kymeta satellite communication system that can download satellite data at 50 megabits per second, which is better than typical LTE wireless service. The transmission speed is expected to rise past the gigabit-per-second mark within a few years.

2016_NAIAS_Kymeta_Mirai_03_1400.jpg

Currently, less than 10% of the earth is covered by 4G/LTE service. The cost to build up the network to expand that comes at a high-cost. Kymeta aims to skip that step by beaming data direct to a flat antenna that is capable of capturing a signal while moving on a road, parked in a remote location, or even crosses borders.

Last month, Tom Freeman, the senior VP of Kymeta, conducted an interview with a local news station in Novi, Michigan as a employee drove a Kymeta connected car around the town of Novi. Despite taking back roads, and the interstate, multiple devices in the car remained connected — one iPad was streaming Netflix, another YouTube, an iPhone was connected to Skype while an Amazon Dot was streaming music.

"If you stood on the roof of this car and threw a tennis ball as far east as you could and it came back and hit you in the back of the head, that is the kind of precision in which we're hitting with a satellite," explained Freeman.

Four gadgets running simultaneously may seem like overload, but the point is clear: the capabilities of the new tech is impressive, but the real use may be far beyond connectivity for the sake of in-vehicle infotainment.

Over-the-Air Updates

Freeman pointed out past recall efforts that involved computer components of cars where less than 25% of people actually brought their cars back to the shop. In his mind, the Kymeta connected car could beam a fix directly to a car for coded-related issues. It could also come in handy making sure that GPS mapping is up-to-date at all times, something that may be more important than ever in the near future as autonomous cars become a part of everyday life.

Another issue today is security within both the tech and automotive industry. In an interview with 7 Action News in Michigan, Freeman said that the company's satellite technology is safer than it's competitors.

"What we like about satellite connectivity is that it's point-to-point," said Freeman. "It is by far the most secure system you can use."

That may be important as reports dating back to 2014 show that it's possible to hack internet-connected cars — but the demand is so high for connectivity inside vehicles that it's already being rolled out in more and more vehicles.

About Kymeta

Based in Redmond, Washington Kymeta was launched in 2013 with a $12 million investment from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Lux Capital and Liberty Global. It closed a $50 million round from existing investors plus Osage University Partners and Kresge Foundation. Early in 2014, the company won a $6.2 million engineering contract with Inmarsat, to accelerate that company's product development.

Over the next two years, it entered a series of partnerships: with Intelsat for antennas optimized for Epic and with Sharp to manufacture Kymeta antennas using glass-on-glass technology pioneered for flat-panel displays. Commercial tests began in 2015 with Intelsat, including an 8,000-mile demonstration drive in a connected car.

In late February Kymeta announced that it's newest product, a 20 cm antenna has successfully passed its latest tests noting, "the test is the first step in making a connected car its most secure and connected at a global scale."

How soon the tech will be available in a new car is still not known. However, being that Toyota is already in a partnership with Kymeta, it may be here soon.


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