5th generation 77 GHz radar sensors smaller with better resolution

5th generation 77 GHz radar sensors smaller with better resolution

New Products |
By Wisse Hettinga

If implemented as a long-distance sensor, the radar sensor has a range up to 300 meters (1000ft) and aperture angles of 120 degrees. For the first time, short-range radar makes it possible to implement functions such as blind spot warning, lane change assistant and very precise parking functions. With this profile, the sensors are regarded as an important building block for the development of assisted and automated driving functions.

The new sensors are more compact and flexible tan former generations. In addition, through a dedicated interface in the sensor and through its modularity in hardware and software, they can be used either as stand-alone sensor or as a pure “radar head” without an own signal processing.

Slimmer and more compact: Continental’s
new radar sensor generation.

In the latter case, the ambient image produced by the radar is forwarded to a central control unit, such as the Assisted & Automated Driving Control Unit. Different E/E architectures of vehicles can be covered with a sensor concept. In addition to today’s standards for bus systems such as high-speed CAN and CAN-FD, the fifth generation is already prepared for automotive Ethernet through its hardware concept. This ensures that the bandwidth necessary for the transfer of raw data is available.

The new generation features include a higher resolution compared to previous generations, which provides a more accurate picture of the traffic situation. In addition, the sensor have the capability to determine the height of objects. This allows, for example, traffic jams under a bridge or road boundaries such as curbs to be detected.

Already the entry-level version of the long-range radar has a range of 200 m and an opening angle of ±45°. The expansion stage, which is currently in preparation, will look 300 m to the front with an opening angle of ±60°. A large opening angle is important to support autonomous emergency braking in transverse traffic at crossroads and to reliably identify two-wheelers (motorized or not) as well. This feature is important for customers, because from 2020 onwards, all new registrations must meet such safety requirements to achieve a top score of “five stars” in the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP).

If four of the close-range radar sensors are installed on the respective corners of the vehicle, the larger opening angle and the higher resolution enable a seamless 360° radar safety belt around the vehicle. Such a detailed and seamless representation of the entire vehicle environment is important so that the driver’s tasks can be taken over by the vehicle during automated driving. In combination with other sensors such as camera, surround view systems and 3D Flash LiDAR, the goal of achieving an equivalent or better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings gets closer.

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