Toyota, Kymeta work on satellite connected car

Image: Mirai vehicle
Toyota’s Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is equipped with Kymeta’s satellite antenna system. (Credit: Kymeta)

Redmond-based Kymeta Corp. and Toyota took the wraps off their collaboration on a satellite antenna system that can send data to cars at broadband speeds.

Toyota’s antenna-equipped, hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel-cell vehicle was unveiled today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The prototype communication system can download satellite data at 50 megabits per second, which is better than typical LTE wireless service. The transmission speed is expected to rise past the gigabit-per-second mark within a few years.

Kymeta said Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a Japan-based fund in which Toyota participates, is providing a strategic investment to push the initiative along. The company declined to specify how much is being invested, other than to say that the amount is significant. On Monday, Kymeta said it closed a $62 million investment round that includes money from Mirai.

For now, the satellite antenna system is being installed on Mirai research vehicles, but not on cars being sold to customers. Kymeta President and CEO Nathan Kundtz said that status is likely to change within the next couple of years.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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