By Steve & Tamami Laser
In addition to dealing with nasties like snakes, crocks, and goanas, remote areas of Australia give travelers pause for another reason: The lack of a mobile signal. So whether folks are on a walkabout in the bush or a long drive on a dirt road, there’s no way to make or receive calls, texts, or get in touch with emergency services if needed.
The “dead zone” is so vast that it’s said to be larger than the entire European Union. The clever folks Down Under have discovered yet another use for the unstoppable Land Cruiser that can be found in every nook and cranny in the Outback.
Toyota Australia, in a partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi and Flinders University, has created “The Land Cruiser Emergency Network.”
According to the automaker, the Land Cruiser Emergency Network is an ongoing project aimed at bringing emergency communications to rural and remote Australian communities that have no mobile coverage. The project began in August 2015 with an ongoing pilot in 50,000 square kilometers of the remote Flinders Ranges.
“No matter where you go in the Outback, you’ll find Land Cruisers,” says Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen, Project Engineer, Flinders University. “What if we could connect them all together so they could provide mobile service in an emergency? Our project uses a simple plug-and-play device that turns a Land Cruiser into an emergency mobile hotspot with up to a 25 km range.”
He explains how it works: “Within network and neighbor communities, anyone can simply connect using Wi-Fi. The signal for an emergency call will send a geotag message straight from their ordinary mobile phone. The data is passed from vehicle to vehicle on a store-and-forward basis and as soon as one of these gets in range of a base station, the message alerts first responders and is carried off to the outside world. And in times of large-scale emergencies such as fire or flood this technology can create a network within the emergency zone so that people can organize their disaster response.”
Toyota’s longest-running nameplate is the Land Cruiser. Originally launched in 1951 as the model BJ, the rugged, go-anywhere vehicle was inspired by the Jeep and Land Rover. Over the years, the Land Cruiser has taken many forms and been sold across the globe.
News source and photos courtesy of Toyota Australia Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp.
Story (commentary) © 2016 CarNichiWa.com