The real life Q

There's a model of it on Ramsey's desk, among the soldering irons, circuit boards and a radar unit from a car's active cruise control. Turns out he's working on a hardcore version for military convoys, which rip across the sand like very fast camel trains. This is fine for the bloke up front, but his trail of dust blinds everyone further back. With Ramsey's system, each vehicle would follow the movements of the lead driver. If he swerves, they swerve, but only when they reach the same point. Useful when roadside bombs are lying about. Or, when you think about it, in the outside lane of the motorway in thick spray when a lorry's wheel has just fallen off.

For this to work, you need more than radar. That's fine for judging distance, but a car must also know how long to wait before copying the first car's actions. Or not copying, in the case of a crash. And so it must receive a motherlode of information in the blink of an eye. Which is why Ramsey's road train also uses 60GHz WiFi - about 25 times faster than average home broadband - to dump enormous amounts of data from one car to the next. But it's not just for desert tailgating: road cars could use it to talk to each other. Let's say you slide on some mud. Your car could tell others nearby, which could arm their traction control to deal with the impending slipperiness.