The Mercedes-Benz DriveBy InfoFueling research car made its debut Nov. 12 at COMDEX Fall 2001, a convention for the computer and electronics industry.
Developed by DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology North America, Inc. (DCRTNA) in Palo Alto, Calif., the DriveBy InfoFueling prototype is a Mercedes-Benz C320 sedan fitted with a special broadband telematics system that allows high volumes of wireless data to be transmitted efficiently in a few seconds.
"Sometime, Somewhere" to Complement "Anytime, Anywhere"
DriveBy InfoFueling will rely on a short burst of data as the vehicle drives by a high-bandwidth transceiver along the roadside, instead of requiring a continuous cellular-type connection. By inexpensively transferring very high-volume data in and out of the car, the new DriveBy InfoFueling technology introduces a new "sometime, somewhere" paradigm that will complement the existing "anytime, anywhere" paradigm of cellular technology, according to Mercedes-Benz.
Such data could be digital video, music and even up-to-date maps incorporating real-time traffic reports. Conventional cellular systems will still be needed for voice communication and safety services such as automatic emergency notification -- which Mercedes points out is a key feature of the Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid system.
Imagine that you're driving in an unfamiliar city with the help of a good GPS navigation system that relies on maps stored on CDs. Wouldn't it be nice if your DriveBy InfoFueling system updated your maps to show new roads, highway construction, and detours, as well as up-to-the-minute traffic information with suggested alternate routes around traffic slowdowns?
In addition, when you synchronize your e-mails, calendar and address book with the car, your navigation system can take the destination for your next off-site meeting and give you directions. While you're driving, the e-mail invitation, agenda and participants list are read to you through the use of text-to-speech technology.
How Does DriveBy InfoFueling Work?
The DriveBy InfoFueling system will use Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a system that involves a series of high-bandwidth wireless local area network transceivers at strategic locations along the road.
For future Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) services, DSRC has been designed for the high-speed transfer of information between vehicles and the infrastructure as well as between vehicles. To encourage the development and implementation of driver information and assistance services such as electronic toll collection and local traffic information, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) allocated the 5.9 GHz range for DSRC usage two years ago. Recently, the standards writing group for DSRC 5.9 GHz decided to use 802.11a R/A as the base technology for licensed telematics applications in the reserved ITS band.
Mercedes-Benz is the first automotive manufacturer to showcase a DSRC prototype application using 802.11a technology, supplied to DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology North America, Inc. by Atheros Communications, Inc.
High Performance, High Value and Scalable, Too
Mercedes-Benz says its research car can reliably transmit many megabytes of data at highway speeds during each drive-by. DriveBy InfoFueling is designed to be extremely cost effective to transfer large amount of data.
In addition, Mercedes says the the DriveBy Info Fueling concept is easily scalable - adding new stations between existing ones would maintain system capacity, so that serving millions of cars during commuting hours is quite feasible.
What's It All Mean?
While it's still in the research stage, DriveBy InfoFueling is likely to establish a new paradigm for "sometime, somewhere" wireless communication. While the "anytime, anywhere" advantages of existing cellular systems will remain significant, especially for safety and security applications such as Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid, Mercedes says the cutting-edge benefits of DriveBy InfoFueling and other dedicated short range communication applications have the potential to offer great value and high performance for an entirely new range of services.