Browse Publications Technical Papers 2004-21-0068
2004-10-18

The New Wireless Frontier: Home and Vehicle Connectivity 2004-21-0068

Our customers expect in their vehicles the same constant connectivity that they experience in their homes through high speed internet portals. New services based on these advances will be transparent and ubiquitous - completely integrated into our lives, just as electricity comes to the wall socket or water from the faucet. The Wi-Fi Radio implements this vision using Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) based on the suite of IEEE 802.11 standards. Drivers have constant wireless connectivity and personalized digital content made available to them through the Wi-Fi Radio.
Ford and our partner Delphi developed the Wi-Fi Radio to overcome the inherent functional and packaging limitations of our vehicles, to quickly introduce new technology at affordable prices and to seamlessly integrate new services into the vehicle. We chose the radio as the integration site because the radio is accessible to every customer and affordable on every vehicle. In our vision, the radio serves as the access point for wireless connectivity.
The Wi-Fi radio with wireless, a flexible user interface and digital memory becomes a powerful, expandable and upgradeable computing & communications platform. The Wi-Fi radio design is flexible to quickly meet the customer's desire for new entertainment and eventually new wireless based safety and security features. For example,
  • home connectivity to provide personalized content such as digitized music (downloadable MP3 files) and information,
  • eCommerce through connectivity with businesses,
  • and eventually new safety features enabled through Dedicate Short-range Communication (DSRC) such as vehicle-to-vehicle and infrastructure services - traffic, weather, construction and safety alerts such as highway closures, icy road warnings, etc.
This paper describes why integration with the radio is a key strategy to enable the quick and rapid migration of technology, how the Wi-Fi revolution enables promising new services and the importance of “open software platforms” such as the Ford Vehicle Consumer Services Interface (VCSI). The VCSI is “middleware” or an Application Programming Interface (API) based on the Java programming language that enables the rapid introduction of new features.
The hardware/software design of the Wi-Fi Radio as developed by Ford and Delphi seamlessly integrates wireless and Ford's VCSI into an affordable and easy to use automotive radio. The vehicle and component integration challenges are presented:
  • hardware design integrates the 802.11 wireless chipset, digital memory and meets critical automotive requirements such as power utilization
  • wireless reception using an automotive antenna design
  • application of Ford's VCSI to demonstrate new services or features
  • longer-range wireless and anytime availability presents new challenges, because the vehicle is constantly connected to external devices
Through collaboration with Delphi, Lincoln has outfitted a 2004 Model Year Aviator sport utility vehicle (SUV) with Wi-Fi to showcase the future potential of wireless infotainment in the automobile. Ford has integrated the Wi-Fi Radio into a production Aviator vehicle to demonstrate the potential of integrating Wi-Fi and to characterize the available infrastructure. The Aviator represents the future of wireless technology in the automotive industry with the first application of Wi-Fi in a vehicle.

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