Wireless technology

Subaru concept
13 Sep, 2012 6:25pm Jon Morgan

Cars will soon go wireless to make them cheaper and more efficient, according to scientists

Currently, copper wires or carbon fibre systems are used to transmit data between a car’s various sensors and computers. But the wiring is relatively heavy and expensive.

With this in mind, Scientists at Warwick University’s School of Engineering are developing optical wireless systems, where data travels through beams of light. It would use LEDs or infrared bulbs, cutting weight, costs and maintenance. While overhead lights could be used to stream multimedia.

Professor Roger Green said: “Optical wireless is relatively unknown at the moment. But it's not hard to imagine a day when passengers can watch TV streamed through a beam coming from their overhead light, or when parts of the engine can 'talk' to each other without wires.”

Professor Green said he believes optical wireless is “poised to come into its own” because manufacturers would be attracted to the potential fuel savings to be had from cutting vehicle weight with the technology.

“It is also cheap to install as it can use a simple LED light source which are being mass produced at the moment,” he said.

“And it has other benefits such as its lack of electromagnetic interference and the fact that, unlike the overcrowded radio spectrum which we use for much of our data communications, optical wireless is unlimited by the technical and regulatory bandwidth limitations which exist for radio signals.”

Disqus - noscript

Carbon fibre? Optical fibre surely? As to heavy copper wire, while light (visible or invisible) can be used to pass data, most real-world components require power to do anything useful, so what's different between this and the current CANBus plus power wire? If you need power to do real work, why not use aluminium cables and send data over the same power wires? Broadcast light signalling is pointless when cheap plastic optical fibres can send all the data required between components...

Cars already have Bluetooth for audio, in-car WiFi to distribute data, GPS receivers for nav, and 3G cellphones for real-time internet. 4G data links are almost upon us, so how Professor Green's project is going to improve on that mix of technologies is a mystery - sounds like a super TV remote control to me; a long-existing IR data link, using On-Off Keying, or perhaps optical OFDM!

A very muddled and uninformative article...