Cool: Wi-Fi breaks the sound barrier

Want a challenge? Try building a Wi-Fi network for a car designed to break the speed of sound. Thanks to Steven Crowley, who dug through the FCC’s experimental radio applications, I got a chance to see what may be the fastest Wi-Fi network around. North American Eagle is using gear from Tropos to add Wi-Fi capability to a jet-powered car that’s designed to reach 800 miles per hour and break the current world record for speed in a land-based vehicle.

The current record of 763 miles per hour was set in 1997 by Andy Green, but the North American Eagle team wants to take that further. Achieving this goal requires a lot of technology, including Intel (s intc) solid state drives, and converting a former Lockheed F-104 jet fighter into a land-based vehicle. A quick look at the project web site shows that the folks building the car are packing it with fancy sensors and other gear. They’ve also included some Wi-Fi equipment in the nose of the vehicle from Tropos with the goal of transmitting sensor data back to base stations around the dry lake bed where they are test driving the car. From Crowley’s blog:

North American Eagle, a project testing the capability of a land-based vehicle to safely transition through supersonic speed, filed an application and exhibits for experimental license to operate a Wi-Fi network consisting of five Tropos model 7320 mesh routers mounted on eight-meter towers and one Tropos model 4310 mobile-mesh router mounted in the vehicle’s nose cone. Video and vehicle operational data will be sent to the base stations. Operation is to take place on dry lake beds near Black Rock, Nevada and Diamond Valley, Nevada on 2400-2483MHz (for data) and 5725-5850 MHz (for video). Transmitter output power will be 30 watts. (Wi-Fi at 800 MPH will be a challenge.)

So far, the site says the team has achieved half of their goal at about 400 miles per hour in the 56-foot long, 7-ton car. Check out the project, and prepare to view your current vehicle with scorn for a few days.

Image courtesy of North American Eagle.