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Embedded connectivity is one of the latest technological trends that has been enthusiastically embraced by the automotive industry. As the modern car becomes increasingly connected, the number of vehicle radio services for aviation, infotainment, ADAS and many other features will continue to rapidly increase. Universal connectivity, as envisioned in the coming years, may require as many as 18 antennas—which can pose many major design challenges for OEMS.

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Traditional “Shark Fin” Antenna

Today, the omnipresent but mildly unattractive “shark fin” antenna that extrudes from the rear roof of many modern cars carries many of today’s connected services. Still, less visible antennas are buried in doors, inside bumpers and behind glass and enable passenger hotspots, remote keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring. These hidden antennas crisscross through the car creating an expensive and often unreliable web of cables in the car.

A new class of automotive antennas—the conformal antenna.

The conformal antenna is a flat radio antenna designed to conform or follow some prescribed shape, singlehandedly eliminating the need for the unsightly “shark fin.” Originally developed as avionics antennas integrated into the curving skin of military aircraft to reduce aerodynamic drag, conformal antennas replaced conventional antenna designs which protrude from the aircraft surface.

Like a mobile phone, automotive conformal antennas are buried in the electronics, below the body surface and help avoid the unsightly radiator elements and the inefficiency and added cost of cables. They consolidate many antennas into a single device—while enhancing vehicle aesthetics and aerodynamics. As an added benefit, they may be integrated with the radio system to improve performance.

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, pervasive connectivity will become the norm—and serve a purpose far beyond the infotainment system. This ubiquitous connectivity will enable a paradigm shift in almost every aspect of personal and commercial transportation, ultimately reaching a point where vehicles drive themselves. The communications systems in the cars of the future will enhance safety, facilitate new power trains and deliver new and compelling driver and passenger experiences and improved operating efficiency.

HARMAN’s multi-brand smart conformal antenna is designed to address these challenges by combining multiple antennas in a single module that can be mounted beneath the vehicle’s body panels and covered with a waterproof, non-conductive random. The result is a sleek look and a perfect match with the vehicle body design. The smart conformal antenna provides gain, directionality and the ability to accommodate beam forming while delivering performance and the required isolation.

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Conformal Antenna

Streamlining car and radio services

The multiband smart conformal antenna can be made part of an integrated package with HARMAN’s Telematics Control Unit (TCU) to become a “smart antenna.” This 5G-ready technology will help automakers to keep up with the pace of innovation in the telecommunications sector so that driers can remain connected without tethering. It supports a broad range of frequencies and radio standards including V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication.

Register and listen to HARMAN’s “We’re All Ears for No Shark Fins—Conformal Antenna Webinar” OnDemand today. In this complimentary 55-minute webinar, you will learn about:

  • The multitude of benefits offered by the smart conformal antenna.

  • The long-term stability and viability of this leading-edge technology in the market.

  • Proven examples of how conformal antennas have been successfully implemented.

If you like what you learn, please share it with your colleagues and friends.