Sep. 4, 2012 at 2:36 PM ET
To save gas, cars of the future could shed some weight by replacing all the wires under the hood with beams of light, according to research on optical wireless technology.
Basic LED lights are sufficient to send data between engine parts, such as between the brakes and the car’s speed control system.
Infrared light can also be used in situations where invisible light is preferred, according to the researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
Such lights are inexpensive, meaning the technology isn’t a cost prohibitive replacement for wired systems.
What’s more, the university says, unlike the heavily regulated and often congested radio wave communications such as your cellphone uses, optical wireless is an unlimited and unregulated spectrum.
“But it is not hard to imagine a day when passengers can watch TV streamed through a beam coming from their overhead light, or when parts of the engine can ‘talk’ to each other without wires.”
To get there, Green and his colleagues are focusing their research on “how to transmit the beams of light around corners, how the materials inside the car affect the signals as they are transmitted and how to adjust those signals accordingly,” The Engineer reported.
If successful, the technology could help reduce the weight of vehicles, which in turn will make them more fuel efficient.
Given the recently announced fuel economy standards that will require all new vehicles to have an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, this technology could help auto manufacturers hit that target.
Green recently presented his research at the International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks held at the University of Warwick.
— via Futurity