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Optical wireless pioneer shows auto makers the light

posted 4 Jan 2013, 03:38 by Mpelembe   [ updated 4 Jan 2013, 03:38 ]

Scientists from the University of Warwick are undertaking pioneering research into the use of optical wireless in cars. Optical wireless involves sending data signals through light. The team led by Professor Roger Green believe optical wireless could replace most wiring within vehicles, improving their reliability while cutting fuel and maintenance costs. Jim Drury went to find out more.

Innovations - The underside of a car bonnet traditionally contains a mass of wiring.

But British scientists believe most of it could soon be torn out...... and replaced by light beams.

Optical wireless guru, Professor Roger Green, says visible or infrared light can be used to transmit data without cables.


"Using infra-red light we can send signal through this bend and this bend through to the other end and although it's quieter than full power we are still getting a signal and I can alter this angle and still get some kind of a signal over quite a wide range of angles."

And Green says while the markets for optical wireless technology are limitless, his team at Warwick University have focused on its application in cars.

Green says that unlike radio frequencies, optical technology enjoys an unlimited and unregulated spectrum, making it ideal for a car system that relies on a myriad of different those between different engine parts, such as the brakes and speed control systems.


"One could use the lighting unit here to distribute illumination and information at the same time. We could also send information through the structure of the car via parts like this and through the car doors and so on, anywhere where there's a cavity or tube or space within the car...using infra-red or visible light......Within the seating area of the car we can distribute multimedia and, for example, to people sitting in the back seats and the front seats."

And while watching movies and listening to music via optical connections has its benefits, Green says the biggest advantage is cutting manufacturing and maintenance costs - a move that would ultimately lead to a more environmentally friendly vehicle.


"If we can remove the wiring and cabling within a vehicle of any description then we can reduce the weight of the vehicle and once we reduce the weight we can reduce the fuel consumption, so there are sort of green energy aspects to using light instead of these other technologies."

Green and his team are currently in discussions with an international vehicle manufacturer. He hopes the idea of an eco-friendly, light-enabled music to their ears.....