Image: TU Ilmenau

Telecommunications researchers at TU Wien (Technical University Vienna) have developed a new antenna concept for cars which could replace the current ‘shark fin’ attachments, now becoming too small.

The antenna box, made from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, can be integrated in a cavity within the front of a car’s roof and can accommodate the growing requirements for wireless communications with multiple antennae, promising good signal directionality and lower interference. It has particular potential for housing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications technologies, as well as for systems to pick up smartphone signals and, for example, detect vulnerable road-users such as pedestrians.

The concept was built in cooperation with the Thüringer Innovationszentrum Mobilität (Thuringian Centre of Innovation in Mobility) at TU Ilmenau in Thuringia, and the car was surveyed [as pictured] at VISTA, the Virtual Road Simulation and Test Area laboratory; gain patterns were measured in anechoic chambers.

TU Wien’s Gerald Artner, who constructed the antenna box, explained in a statement: “The key question was whether antennas could actually be installed in the car’s roof and whether realistic measurement results across the entire vehicle were still comparable with the laboratory measured values.”

He concluded: “As demonstrated, our antenna cavity not only provides more space for a larger number of antennas, but the directionality is also better than [from] a shark fin at the rear. The antennas in the shark fin often do not provide high transmission power directly forwards because they are shielded by the curvature of the car roof. Our antenna box gives excellent results right in this direction.”

As well as the technical benefits, the antenna cavity is more discreet than a shark fin, allowing for a more aerodynamic and aesthetically smoother roof design.