Automatic radar signal analysis speeds up ADAS development

July 20, 2014 // By Christoph Wagner, Rohde & Schwarz
<p>In the aim of reducing accidents, today's vehicles are increasingly equipped with technologies that provide support to the driver in critical situations. Besides cameras and ultrasonic sensors, the automotive industry is turning more and more to radar as the cost of the associated technology decreases. Radar allows very fast and clear-cut measurement of the velocity and distance of multiple objects under any weather conditions. This is enabling solutions for automated driving. The relevant radar signals are frequency-modulated and can be analyzed with spectrum analyzers. In this manner, developers of radar components can automatically detect, measure and display the signals in the time and frequency domains – even up to frequencies of 500 GHz. </p>

According to a study by the Audi Accident Research Unit, more than 90 % of all accidents on the road can be attributed to human error. Furthermore, the accident rate could be drastically reduced by implementing automated driving (similar to the autopilot systems used in aircraft). Although it might sound like something from a science-fiction novel, automated driving has already become reality in many cars in the luxury class and now increasingly in the medium-price class too. Besides the now classic parking-assistance system, there are other functions to help with everyday driving such as a lane-change assistant, blind-spot detection and adaptive cruise control. While a parking-assistance system is based on a clear yes/no procedure where information is paramount, adaptive cruise control can involve modifying the driving speed in response to the vehicle in front, for example.

Maintaining the flow of traffic

Another reason why automated driving has become such an important topic is related to the rapid development of megacities. The International Energy Agency has noted that as cities like Moscow, Shanghai, Tokyo and Mexico City attain populations of 20 or even 30 million, they are experiencing a dramatic increase in vehicle usage. Today, there are already more than one billion vehicles in the world. In 2025, there will be 1.5 billion vehicles, including 400 million in China alone, where they will be concentrated in metropolitan areas. In such a context, automated driving will no longer be merely a question of road safety and convenience. Instead, it will offer the only way to keep traffic flowing in cities, where the average speed is already less than 20 km/h due to extreme road usage.

Radar technology for automotive applications

Radar technology for use in cars differs in several ways from the military applications for which radar was originally developed. Firstly, the automotive industry is subject to enormous cost pressures, so components must be much more economical. In addition, due to the

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