Netflix streaming in any mode of transportation will be fun, but reliable in-car satellite internet connectivity as a backstop for today’s cellular vehicle-to-everything communications brings full vehicle autonomy another step closer to reality.
Satellite antennas for cars are not new. In February 2004 we covered the KVH TracVision A5—a gigantic, expensive roof rack–mounted contraption that nonetheless lost the DirecTV picture under every bridge. That electromechanically steered system was too huge and heavy to practically integrate into normal cars.
The solid-state, electronically steered “phased-array” systems providing internet connectivity on most planes are better, but their evenly spaced individual elements naturally cause destructive interference among one another. To compensate, more elements are added, driving up cost and power consumption, which in turn generates extra heat. The heat further compromises the antenna’s efficiency, effective transmission rates, and reliability.
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