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Researchers are using Land Cruisers in the Outback as a wireless network

TechCrunch TechCrunch 12/05/2016 Stefan Etienne

Communication in the harsh, uninhabited and undeveloped environment of the Australian Outback is a huge challenge.

That’s why Paul Gardner-Stephen, a senior lecturer at Flinders University in Adelaide, has partnered with Toyota and the communications and advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi on a solution.

The three partners are building a literal mobile network, using fleets of Toyota Land Cruisers equipped with Wi-Fi devices attached to their windshields.

The devices that provide a signal effective range of 25 km (15.5 miles).

Using Wi-Fi, UHF and Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) the devices can send emergency messages or geo-tagged info between vehicles in the Outback, which are then relayed to the rest of the world.

It’s a potentially handy tool in the event of a natural disaster; or for keeping in touch with crews that are out of range and need a WiFi network for assistance (or communicating during high-speed chases across a blasted hellscape in a post-apocalyptic, water scarce future Australia).

Currently, a fleet of 10 SUVs are being used in the Flinders Ranges of Southern Australia, where the tech will not only be stress-tested but refined for use in more areas, including some possible commercial use.

It’s definitely a smart take on addressing a connectivity problem seen in one of the least-densely populated areas of the world.

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