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The Australian tech company behind connected cars

Posted: 26 April 2018 11:54 am

driving a car

An Adelaide company is creating technology for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Cohda Wireless, based in Adelaide, is pioneering a revolutionary vehicle positioning system that works even in built-up cities. Traditional GPS technology develops black-spots around tall buildings, but the tech company has solved this problem.

Technology taken from outback mines

Cohda relied on its experience creating systems for collision avoidance in underground mines. Why do mines present such a challenge for communication? Cohda Wireless chief technology officer Dr Paul Alexander explains:

“The hardest place to do positioning is one kilometre underground with a cubic kilometre of copper above your head,” he said.

Taking this system and rolling it out in cities, the company can locate vehicles with an accuracy of within one metre. Cohda’s system even works in tunnels, carparks or between skyscrapers that form urban canyons.

Interlinked vehicles that relay speed, direction of travel and potential hazards to other cars will need uninterrupted connectivity. The system works by pinging information to roadside receivers.

Vital development for driverless cars

Dr Alexander said this constant contact innovation isn’t just going to keep your sat-nav working all the time; it could one day underpin a network of autonomous cars that speak to each other.

“If you're in a major downtown area with tall buildings, or in a tunnel or in an underground parking lot, a GPS system can fail, preventing it from delivering accurate results. As well as being inconvenient for current drivers, this is not an option as we enter the era of driverless cars.”

Trials in South Australia and New York

The company has previously carried out testing on Telstra’s South Australian 4G network. More recently, technicians travelled to Sixth Avenue in New York, which has some of the cities tallest buildings and worst connection black spots, for more trials.

How well did things go? Very well, with the company able to repeatedly achieve accurate readings where rival products showed the vehicle as travelling through buildings.

Cities and automakers showing interest

After the successful demos, manufacturers and smart cities have shown strong interest to evaluate the company's proprietary electronics. To meet this demand, Cohda Wireless released a kit that enables engineers to carry out their own large-scale field trials.

Looking for a car with autonomous technology?

Although wide-scale adoption of connected and autonomous car technologies may be decades away, there are models on sale now with such features. The Tesla Model S has an autopilot function which offers semi-autonomous driver assistance and some Mercedes-Benz models boast smart driver assists as do many other modern cars.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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