NXP shrinks radar sensors to mass-market size

January 06, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive suppliers can build smaller and cheaper radar sensors if they use NXP’s latest achievement: The chipmaker has introduced what it claims to be the world’s smallest 77GHz single-chip transceiver.

Due to its affordable price level and its low energy consumption (40% less than available products), the new NXP radar chip enables carmakers and tier ones to design radar-based 360-degree surround sensors at prices that might be higher than today’s single-direction radar sensors, but in any case lower than comparable solutions with available radar devices. Plus, they will be significantly smaller – according to the vendor, the new RFCMOS chip enables the design of radar sensors the size of a stamp. Today’s radar sensors typically have the size of a fist (more or less).

Potential applications for such radar sensors could be emergency brake assists, automatic distance control, blind spot surveillance, automated parking and cross-traffic alert. Today, most of these applications are features of upmarket vehicles; with the new chip they could become affordable for mass markets, NXP says.

The chipmaker quoted a study from market researcher IHS that predicts a steep rise in radar-based driver assistance systems for the years ahead: By 2021, the number of radar sensors will grow at a speed of 23 percent per year to reach the 50 million units mark in 2021. A driving factor is the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) – new cars will only receive the best rating of five NCCAP stars if they are equipped with such driver assistance systems. On the other hand, the sensors will constantly become cheaper and smaller and consume less energy, enabling carmakers to equip their vehicles with radar-based systems.

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