An Emergency Network built on… Land Cruisers?

Can you hear me now? Good! In the U.S. it’s easy to forget just how easy we have it with reliable cell coverage. From getting directions on back roads to contacting life saving emergency services, we rely on quick and easy access to a cellular network to get us through just about everything, but what about those places without such service? Countries like Australia where 65% of their land is out of reach? That’s an area larger than the entire EU for those who are curious. Well everything from satellites to hot air balloons has been suggested, but recently Saatchi & Saatchi had a slightly more practical idea. Why not connect the outback with the proven infrastructure that already exists in the world’s most remote regions, use Toyota Land Cruisers.

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“The device has been engineered using a clever mix of WI-FI, UHF and Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology, an area that lots of people are looking into – including NASA for interplanetary communications, to turn vehicles into communications hotspots each with up to a 25km range.”

The concept is actually quite simple and functions like a repeater. Once installed each device is constantly listening for emergency signals sent out by other nodes. When one is activated a ping with the vehicle’s location is sent roughly 25 km in every direction to be picked up by any passing Land Cruisers. When another vehicle receives the ping it automatically repeats it broadcasting their location another 25 km and so on and so forth until it reaches a base station which transmits the signal to emergency services. With as few cruisers as we have in the United States this signal might not make it very far, but with Land Cruiser representing over 90% of vehicles in some parts of Australia, it is a very effective tool there.

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Mike Spirkovski, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia added, “It’s amazing that in this day and age with such epic technology advances in mobile communications over 65% of Australia still receives no mobile signal. 

“With this in mind and the fact that Toyota’s Land Cruiser is one of the toughest vehicles in the world and rural Australia’s most popular 4×4 we created the Land Cruiser Emergency Network”.

These devices are currently being tested in a fleet of Land Cruisers exploring the Flinders Range, a part of the country so remote that the Mars Society uses it to evaluate their vehicles. To find out more or just watch some cool footage, check out the video Toyota has released below.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.