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Global tech giants invest in ‘talking cars’ technology

by Kelly Stone

Paul Gray from Cohda Wireless.University of South Australia spin-off company Cohda Wireless has attracted a substantial, undisclosed investment deal from two global technology giants.

The ‘Car-to-Car’ communications technology company, based at North Adelaide, has won investment from global networking equipment firm Cisco Systems and NXP B.V. a top 10 global semiconductor company.

The decision by the two United States NASDAQ-listed firms is a coup for Cohda Wireless which was founded in 2005 by a group of research scientists working at UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research (ITR). Dr Paul Alexander, one of the inventors, is the Chief Technology Officer at Cohda, and Professor Alex Grant, another inventor, is now the Director of ITR.

With its roots originating from, and strong ongoing links with UniSA and the University’s commercialisation arm ITEK Ventures (ITEK), Cohda Wireless will now be able to advance its connected car communications and further extend its reach into the global automotive industry.

Cohda Wireless’ key patented technology, called Dedicated Short Range Communications, is embedded in the receive side of an 802.11p radio and Cohda has also developed complete software solutions (from network layer to applications) to run on this hardware.

The technology, which is currently being tested in major trials around the world in Germany, France, United States, Korea and Australia, effectively allows cars to ‘talk’ to each other and reduce or eliminate crashes through car-to-car data transmission that provides drivers with an audio or visual alert in the threat of an accident.

It is estimated by the US Department of Transport that these car-to-car technologies may address up to 82 per cent of crash scenarios.

Car-to-infrastructure network communications will also capture real-time data from on-board technology to better manage transportation system congestion and maximise vehicles operating maintenance and fuel efficiency.

Cohda Wireless’ advanced radio signal processing techniques started development in 2004 at UniSA’s ITR under a $1m project and funding agreement funded by ITEK and Melbourne-based SciVentures Investments Pty Ltd.

Cohda Wireless was incubated through ITEK and in June 2005 the company was established, with further investment from ITEK and Canberra-based Epicorp Pre Seed Fund to commercialise the technology developed under the project and funding agreement.

ITEK Chief Financial Officer, and Director of Cohda Wireless, Bruce Tilbrook welcomed the announcement from Cisco and NXP Semiconductors.

“This investment from multi-billion dollar industry giants Cisco and NXP serves to validate the Cohda business model and its superior technology,” Tilbrook says.

“In addition, Cohda also has commercial agreements with both Cisco and NXP whereby the three companies will apply their collective expertise and technologies to developing on-board and roadside units that are ready for ‘Car-to-Car’ and ‘Car-to-Infrastructure’ deployment across the globe.

“The pay-off if everything goes right is very convincing.”

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