TransCore to develop combined communications modem

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TransCore, a global manufacturer of transportation-based radio frequency identification (RFID) products, announced the development of a combined dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and long-range GPS and satellite communications modem for automobile safety products. Moving from multiple in-vehicle components to a highly integrated device will lower cost and provide ubiquitous coverage, according to the company.

“This is precisely the right combination of technologies and platform to bring a vast array of safety applications into the automobile,” says Kelly Gravelle, TransCore’s chief technology officer. “Instead of building something from pieces and parts or limited to short-range communications, vehicle OEMs can incorporate a single integrated component into the vehicle with the attendant cost savings, space reduction and improved reliability.”

The modem also will provide a more immediate means to support critical safety applications while the nationwide short-range communications (DSRC) infrastructure network is built out over the next few decades, TransCore says. As DSRC infrastructure becomes available, the system is designed to take advantage of its low usage costs and tailored communication capabilities. In areas without DSRC, either the satellite communications capability or a conventional cellular link can be used to connect to the vehicle.

With GPS accuracy of up to one meter and the versatility of multiple channels to communicate with the vehicle, the modem will enable safety services in the near term as well as the foreseeable future, according to the company. The new modem, based on TransCore’s multimillion dollar research and development of a satellite-based modem for its GlobalWave asset tracking products, not only will be capable of using wideband DSRC locally for control and warnings (e.g., enabling “smart intersections”), but via its highly accurate GPS and satellite communications technology it also will allow automated reporting of incidents, irrespective of the limitations of local terrestrial coverage. This blend of technologies will allow auto OEMs to deliver integrated preventative safety systems such as automated warnings and collision avoidance for fire, ambulance and police response, TransCore says.

Incorporating satellite technology was an essential element of TransCore’s strategic vision to combine the inherent advantages of both short- and long-range communication devices. TransCore will team with Ottawa, Canada-based Carleton University to develop advanced radio frequency (RF) circuit integration technologies, central to making the resulting product viable and cost effective. TransCore’s development of GPS and satellite communications technologies and its core involvement with 5.9 GHz DSRC development make this integrated product a natural extension.

“Combining the university’s access to advanced integration technologies and TransCore’s expertise in transportation-based RFID and satellite communication technologies provides an extraordinary opportunity to make a positive social impact — part of the mission of any university,” says Dr. Langis Roy, chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Carleton University.

TransCore’s approach leverages multiple ongoing initiatives, such as GPS technology supported by the European Space Agency, satellite communication/GPS technology supported by the Canadian Space Agency and the nascent development of DSRC prototypes for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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