Posted: March 25, 2013

WISI and IMSTagreed upon a strategic partnership to develop an intelligent roof antenna for motor vehicles. “This partnership gives us access to the excellent know-how of the IMST engineers in antenna technologies and communication systems,” says Dr. Rüdiger Czolk, sales director at WISI Automotive. “For IMST the cooperation is an excellent opportunity to transfer innovative solutions from its pre-development and research projects into series products” explains Norbert Schmidt, Head of Department Information and Communications Systems at IMST.

“This partnership gives us access to the excellent know-how of the IMST engineers in antenna technologies and communication systems”

The intelligent roof antenna is a multi-band antenna system that integrates the services GSM/3G/LTE, GPS and Car-to-Car (C2C) into a single module. In addition to the passive antenna elements for the named services, the module includes the entire electronic components like microcontroller, memory, and signal processing for C2C. Due to the complete integration of the service into a single module the interconnection with the vehicle architecture is purely digital via Ethernet and avoids – especially for 5.9 GHz – using lossy coaxial cables.

At such high frequencies in a vehicle environment, even on the exposed roof position signal drops due to shadowing and multiple reflections are expected. Therefore this architecture provides the ability to connect a second module placed at an alternative position to the main module. The radiation characteristics of the additional module can be tailored to the particular position. This distributed system enables antenna diversity and thus provides an optimal omnidirectional combined radiation pattern. Maximum transmission range and thus a significant increase in traffic safety can be guaranteed.

Middle of last year, IMST and WISI have already demonstrated the feasibility of such a smart antenna solution in a first project. In cooperation with AUDI a system for the C2C communication has been integrated into an existing roof fin mounted on test vehicles and validated in field trials. Thomas Smits, System-/Software architect at IMST, responsible for the architecture of intelligent antenna systems, emphasizes the advantages of the system: “Apart from avoiding expensive coaxial cables, the digital connectivity allows a much more flexible positioning of the antennas on the vehicle. The distance to the antenna only plays an insignificant role. For the difficult propagation conditions at 5.9 GHz, other than the traditional installation positions can be used now. In addition, other services like conventional GPS or Wifi could be integrated.” The presented solution reached equal or better performance than traditional, non-integrated systems in all executed test cases. For vehicle manufacturers the economic benefits of a smart antenna for C2C communication are a key aspect in addition to technical performance. As only digital cables need to be installed, manufacturers can offer a professional and high-performance architecture and even save cost and weight. The project was supported by NXP Semiconductors, supplier of C2C technology and Cohda Wireless, provider of the 802.11p firmware.

Stefan Suckrow, project manager of the project at WISI is looking forward to the follow-up projects. “The year 2013 is dedicated to achieve series production readiness of the antenna, to be prepared for the planned launch of C2C communication in 2015.”

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