Radar Sensors Enable Autonomous Driving

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Here are reference designs that enable autonomous driving using highly-integrated radar sensors 

Autonomous control of a vehicle makes driving safer and comfortable. You’ve probably heard of newer model cars using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like autonomous emergency braking, cross-traffic alerts or lane change assist. But have you ever thought about how your car knows when to stop to avoid a front collision? Or what system keeps drivers from changing lanes when that lane is occupied? Or even when backing out of a parking space, how might a car “know” that another vehicle is speeding down the alley?

Part of the answer to all of these questions is automotive radar. Radar is simply a method of using radio waves to determine the range, angle and relative velocity of objects. In today’s vehicle safety systems, radars are used in conjunction with cameras, ultrasound and other sensors to obtain information about a vehicle’s surroundings. Using high-level processing technology to facilitate the fusion of this sensor data can lead to improved object identification and decision-making, allowing the vehicle to decide, as an example, whether the driver is drifting into the next lane or is deliberately moving over. The need for this information has driven large increases in the number of automobiles built with one or more radar systems.

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Customer demand for systems like blind-spot detection (BSD), lane-change assist (LCA) and front/rear cross-traffic alert (F/RCTA), autonomous emergency braking (AEB), and adaptive cruise control (ACC) has driven an increase in radar-sensor production.

In the automotive space, the primary radar applications can be broadly grouped into corner radars and front radars. Corner radars (at both the rear and front corners of the car) are typically short-range sensors that handle the requirements of blind-spot detection (BSD), lane-change assist (LCA), and front/rear cross-traffic alert (F/RCTA), while front radars are typically mid- and long-range radars responsible for autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (ACC). In the industrial space, the applications for radar include fluid and solid level sensing, traffic monitoring, robotics and more.

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The two frequencies commonly used in these radar applications are 24GHz and 77GHz. However, there is a shift in the industry toward the 77GHz frequency band due to emerging regulatory requirements, as well as the larger bandwidth availability, smaller sensor size and performance advantages.

Here are reference designs that simplify the implementation of automotive radar applications using 76 GHz to 81 GHz FMCW radar sensor chips integrating DSP and MCU.

Short-range Radar Reference design

TI offers a reference design, the TIDEP-0092, which can be used for short-range radar (SRR) automotive applications. The design features the AWR1642, an integrated single-chip FMCW radar sensor capable of operation in the 76-81GHz band. The design is intended for short-range applications (that is to detect as many as 200 objects up to a distance of 80 m (260 feet) and track as many as 24 of them traveling as fast as 90 kph, which is approximately 55 mph). In the short range application, the sensor can simultaneously track objects at 80 m while generating a rich point cloud of objects at 20 m, so that approaching vehicles and closer small objects can be detected at the same time. A range of more than 80 m can be achieved with the design of an antenna with higher gain than the one included in the AWR1642.

Click here for reference design

Traffic Monitoring Object Detection and Tracking Reference Design Using mmWave Radar Sensor

The TIDEP-0090 reference design from TI uses single-chip millimeter-wave (mmWave) technology used for robust, long-range sensing in traffic monitoring and other applications. The design uses the IWR1642BOOST evaluation module (EVM) and integrates a complete radar processing chain onto the IWR1642 device. This design is also useful for building other applications, such as object detection for robots.

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Features

  • Demonstration of environmentally robust object detection, clustering, and tracking using IWR1642
  • IWR1642 mmWave sensor pinpoints location of objects over a range of 70m for multi-lane monitoring and 195m for single-lane monitoring
  • Measurement bandwidth of 76 GHz to 77 GHz
    IWR1642 with an integrated digital signal processor (DSP) to cluster objects and track their range and velocity over time
  • Based on proven EVM hardware designs enabling quick time to market and out of the box

Click here for reference design

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