Though I’ve always believed that the shortwave spectrum is a medium–a conduit for international communications not simply confined to analog audio broadcasts–I would have never guessed it would be used in an autonomous vehicle technology system. But check this out (and see update/comments below, plus our follow-up post):
Toyota and Audi turned heads earlier this month by announcing that they were following in Google’s tracks and developing partially self-driving, or “autonomous” vehicle technology systems of their own.
At that time, Toyota noted in press materials that it has been testing one such semi-autonomous vehicle system — the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), which uses short wave radio signals to have cars communicate with other vehicles and surrounding infrastructure to avoid collisions — at a simulated city inside its Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono City, Japan.
Update: Sean (@VA5LF) commented on Twitter, “wow, that sounds ill-advised. HF is no place for local area comms!”
I wholeheartedly agree, Sean. The use of LED traffic lights alone bombards my car’s AM radio with Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). I can’t imagine my life depending on a technology that is so vulnerable to RFI. I would assume Toyota has a way to overcome this, else this info is simply incorrect/inaccurate. I mean, imagine how geo storms or skip would effect local driving conditions.
One commenter noted:
“I didn’t know that VHF, UHF, or 5.9 GHz bands were considered short wave.”
Then Mike sent a message with the following comment:
I was just reading the posting about Toyota and self driving vehicles and the mention of “short wave radio signals”. I wonder if some how they meant “near field communication (NFC)” and it has been translated to short wave (near field – short distance) radio communication? NFC is a proven technology being used for payment systems etc.
Just wondering aloud.
Indeed. I strongly suspect this journalist got their terminology a little skewed! Check out our follow-up post.