In the civilized world we take connectivity for granted. In the rough-and-tumble wilds of the Australian Outback, however, there are vast expanses without any link to modern society. Toyota has discovered a way to remedy this with a fleet of Land Cruisers.
Equipped with a small cylindrical device developed in conjunction with Flinders University, the SUVs are transformed into mobile hotspots. The devices are “plug and play” and have a range of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles).
Any wifi-enabled device can then connect to one of the Land Cruisers, even as it’s on the move, provided it’s within range. The data is then relayed to other Land Cruisers that are also on the move, eventually creating a network of moving hotspots that can constantly pass information from one to the other until one is within range of a traditional hotspot connected to the rest of the world.
Called the LandCruiser Emergency Network, Toyota envisions it as an easily mobilized communications system for remote regions — often which don’t have paved roads — in case of natural disasters such as forest fires or floods.
Australia buys more Land Cruisers per capita than anywhere else in the world. In some areas, market share is over 90 percent, so the Toyota SUV was a natural fit for the project. So far, the program has been able to cover 50,000 square kilometers of the Flinders Ranges.