Toyota is trialling a device in a fleet of LandCruisers that turns the vehicles into hotspots on an ‘emergency network’.
The trial is a collaboration between Toyota, advertising agency Saatchi Saatchi, and Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University.
“The marrying of communications technology and the LandCruiser presents a huge opportunity for us to provide much-needed infrastructure to remote communities around Australia,” said Brad Cramb, Toyota’s divisional manager for national marketing.
The device – which takes the form of a rugged yellow tube that can be stuck to the inside of a vehicle window – uses wi-fi, ultra high frequency and delay tolerant networking to give the vehicles a 25km range. Vehicles fitted with the device form the so called ‘LandCruiser Emergency Network’.
“Distressed parties in the range of the roaming network can use their ordinary mobile phone to log a call or send a geo-tagged message,” said Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen who pioneered Serval Mesh, an app that enables Android phones to perform infrastructure-free, peer-to-peer voice, text and data services.
“Data is then passed from LandCruiser to LandCruiser on a store-and-forward basis. As soon as one of these gets in range of base station, the message alerts first responders,” he said.
Around 65 per cent of Australia is without mobile signal and in some remote places you are likely to be closer to a LandCruiser than a cell tower. Australia buys more LandCruisers per capita than anywhere else in the world.
“It is hard to conceive of a more robust and extensive support network for outback Australia than the collective LandCruiser drivers of this country,” added Dr Gardner-Stephen.
Following the trial, the company said it would be exploring the feasibility of a commercial rollout of the devices.