Considering the kind of species that call the Australian Outback home — snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc. — you’d hope it’s a place with a solid emergency response system.
You’d be wrong.
But a new species of inhabitants is out to change that:
An ongoing public safety project from Toyota and communications firm Saatchi & Saatchi, the Land Cruiser Emergency Network was established by equipping a fleet of the rugged 4x4s with high-tech devices that have a range of 15.5 miles and can handle voice and data info sent via Wi-Fi, UHF signals and DTNs (Delay Tolerant Networks).
After receiving a geo-tagged distress message sent from a phone in a remote area, the plug-and-play devices pass the alert along from vehicle to vehicle until one is close enough to relay it to a base station so first responders can be notified.
“Humanitarian technologies aren’t just something nice to have, they all too often end up being the difference between life and death,” says Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University. “It is hard to conceive of a more robust and extensive support network for Outback Australia than the collective Land Cruiser drivers of this country.”
The system is already in operation across nearly 20,000 square miles in the remote Flinders Range — where the Mars Society test-drives their vehicles — and the hope is to expand the emergency network even further in the future.