One of the highlights of the recent CES show in Las Vegas was a new automotive antenna system from Delphi that tracks a geo-stationary satellite from a moving passenger vehicle.
Delphi said at the launch that while there are currently military and other vehicles that use geo-stationary satellite tracking technologies with large radomes, none exists in low-profile form or without modifications to the contour of a vehicle.
A Delphi demonstration vehicle showed the antenna technology fully integrated into the roof of an SUV. The antenna was thin enough to fit between the roofline and the interior headliner. The vehicle had multiple 7-inch television screens with radio frequency (RF) headsets for rear passengers. Each of the passenger positions could select between satellite TV, DVD and video games.
‘There are probably not many consumers or any manufacturers that would accept traditional satellite dishes sprouting from the roof of their vehicles,’ said Dr. Dick Lind, director of advanced engineering at Delphi Electronics & Safety. ‘Our solution was to integrate the antenna system into the roof of the vehicle without affecting headroom, safety or aerodynamics,’ he added.
Since existing geo-stationary satellites are intended for reception by stationary platforms, Delphi had to design an antenna system that is fully steerable in both horizontal plane and elevation to consistently track the satellite as the vehicle changes directions and attitudes.
The mechanical movement of the antenna associated with beam steering does not add any perceptible noise into the passenger compartment or electromagnetic interference to other vehicle systems.
‘After several years of development, we are very pleased to have a workable system that we believe will be commercial in coming years,’ Lind said. Delphi worked with Motia, a fabless semiconductor company focused on developing smart antennas for wireless systems. Motia engineered the elevation scanning, antenna element and microwave electronics to complete the project.