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Toyota and Kymeta, a satellite antenna technology developer, have revealed a Toyota Mirai research vehicle with satellite communications technology at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

The Japanese automaker is on the move to enhance its connected technologies. According to its latest announcement, its plan is to “install a Data Communication Module into a broader range of its vehicles,” using satellite communication technologies in the future.

Kymeta is a US-based company, and appears to be the right tech provider for Toyota. It is also the world’s leader in flat-panel antenna technology – an initiative Toyota is looking to exploit, considering that it wouldn’t want to have a large satellite dish on the roof of its vehicles.

Toyota

With Toyota supplying the satellite developer with its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai, Kymeta has fitted it with an antenna that uses special software and liquid crystal technologies to electronically track and steer towards space satellites.

There’s no need for conventional dish-like satellites here. Kymeta’s solution is lightweight, has a flat profile antenna, and is “seamlessly integrated into the car during assembly or as an each aftermarket installation.”

Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation, commented that, “we were very excited to learn about Kymeta, because their flat antennae technology could solve the challenge of vehicle-based satellite communications.”

Dr Nathan Kundtz, CEO of Kymeta, said that, “Kymeta is the first company to successfully demonstrate this type of technology, and we have over 8,000 miles of road testing with cars connected to satellites.”

Toyota and Kymeta have been working together to develop this flat antenna technology and its applications for vehicles since September 2013. Just this month alone, Toyota invested USD$5 million to accelerate Kymeta’s development under the Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership fund.

The car maker’s faith in satellite communications technology stems from its high capacity to distribute huge amounts of data to a vehicle, cover a broad range of areas that could aid a global deployment of connected vehicles and provide more stable and secure communications, particularly in emergency situations.