AI, 3D antenna boost for driverless car radar

AI, 3D antenna boost for driverless car radar

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Germany have teamed up to develop a more accurate radar sensor for driverless cars using a 3D antenna and AI algorithms.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM has teamed up with InnoSenT, KSG, Creonic and the University of Bielefeld develop a radar sensor with an angular resolution below 1° at 180° coverage, dramatically improving the current resolution of 2° for an angle of 90°.

The €2.32 KI-Radar project uses a 3D antenna design can clearly detect and distinguish between objects at an angular distance of one degree or more. This means a driverless car would only need six radar sensors, down from 16 sensors, reducing the production costs for radar equipment to less than half the current cost.

The Fraunhofer IZM team was responsible for the development of the 79GHz radar frontend with its communication interface and the three-dimensional antenna. The researchers also miniaturized the system with the Institute’s embedding technologies to make it easier to integrate into regular vehicle designs. One unique feature of the project was its decision to approach both the hardware and the software in combination from the very beginning – a choice that paid off as it increased performance while helping to keep the costs low and make the physical system smaller.

“AI algorithms came to the rescue: We are using them to couple the data from individual radar sensors to substantially improve the system’s angular resolution,” said Dr Christian Tschoban, the Fraunhofer IZM Group Lead in charge of the project.

After the individual components were developed by the project partners, two demonstration units were built and put to the test. Already during the first test run, the unit equipped with 3D antennas and built-in AI proved its capabilities: The system reliably detected objects at an angular resolution of below one degree. Nearing the end of the project, the second working unit was subjected to trials under real-world conditions. Fixed to a car, it also detected objects along the test route reliably and accurately.

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