Ask any consumer how many antennas are in or on a car, and the answer will in many cases be “one, for the radio”. However, there are many more! The new antennas are for connectivity, comfort and safety. Although barely visible, they are essential to the functioning of today’s cars, let alone tomorrow’s.
Antennas allow a car to communicate with the outside world, and vice-versa. The metallic elements convert electrical energy into electromagnetic waves and function as both receiver and transmitter of information.
More than just radio
Multiple antennas are already needed to tune in only to an AM, FM or digital DAB+ radio station. But a car has many more, with various functions that are all essential for the correct functioning of the car. The 4G telephone antennas are used for connectivity functions, various safety assistants – including the e-Call emergency call – and the accessibility of the occupants. In addition, there are antennas for navigation and vehicle location (GPS), for Bluetooth and WiFi, while others are specifically designed to provide access to the car or switch on the heating remotely.
Everyone knows how annoying ‘noise on the line’ can be, and how important receiving warning signals is. The challenge for engineers is to guarantee optimum communication quality under all circumstances. And that’s not easy, as a car is constantly moving and often crosses areas where the reception is mediocre or downright bad.
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From rafter to shark-fin
The number of antennas varies per car, although today there are at least ten. The roof is the best place to house them, as it is the highest point of the car, with the greatest reach in all directions. That’s why the ‘shark-fin’ antenna (the electronic replacement for the old rafter) on the roof of the Leon already controls four functions: GPS, 4G telephony, WiFi and the remote control of the heating. However, it doesn’t stop there. Any non-metallic location is a potential place to house an antenna, from the heated rear window to the bumper and door handles.
While communication is already important today, it will even be of elementary importance tomorrow. With autonomously driving cars equipped with 5G technology, the exchange of data with the cloud in a split second is crucial and antennas must function always and everywhere. Therefore it is expected to install another ten additional antennas in cars in the coming years; from entertainment and infotainment (augmented reality, 4K video streaming or online games) to improving GPS data, and of course with a view to autonomous and highly connected cars.
Following are some of the advantages that you can enjoy with an antenna:
– navigation and location (GPS)
– WiFi and Bluetooth
– 4G telephony
– remote heating
– for connectivity services
– security functions (e-Call)
– improved mobile accessibility of occupants
– Link infotainment systems to occupants’ mobile devices
– Handsfree, Full Link and WiFi Hotspot functions
– remote unlocking and locking of the doors
– Digital Key systems (for switching the ignition on and off via the immobilizer)