Tag Archives: Toyota

Short Wave or Short Range?

Examples of Dedicated Short Range Communications (Source: Technologijos)

Examples of Dedicated Short Range Communications (Source: Technologijos)

Readers Benn and Mike agree with others who’ve commented on the questionable accuracy of the article posted earlier today from Talking Points Memo. Most likely, Toyota’s autonomous vehicle technology system is not based on shortwave (or high frequency) technology. Benn writes:

What may have happened is that Toyota’s media people confused Short Range with Short Wave. Officially the 5.9 GHz system they referred to is called Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). That’s what the FCC named it when they allocated that band.

The FCC is into dry technical facts and not marketing. DSRC is too geek of a term. The government had to come up with a name that sounded more 21st Century, like Apple invented it or something. So it’s now the awesome Dept of Transportation Service Mark called IntelliDrive.

The irony is that an autonomous vehicle system must rely on near-range, or short-range communications; anything long-range wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s too bad it’s not shortwave–!  Don’t get me wrong, shortwave isn’t suited to this use. But I like to imagine how good propagation and band openings might affect road traffic. (Perhaps a car in Seattle would tell one in New York local driving conditions???) Plus, on a more serious note, if a vital first-world technology relied heavily upon HF communications, perhaps proper regulations would be put in place to protect our spectrum from the copious amounts of locally-generated RFI we deal with daily…Oh, it’s fine to dream.

Toyota is developing a shortwave-driven car?!?

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons & Toyota)

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons & Toyota)

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):

(Source: TPM)

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.

Toyota also said that further “research and development will continue at Toyota Research Institute, North America (TRiNA), in Ann Arbor, Mich.” […] Read the full article on TPM.

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. 🙂

Reader comments:

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.