Dutch startup shrinks 60GHz radars, increases precision
Investing in this round were Orlaco, a manufacturer of camera systems for vehicles and vessels, the company’s founders Paul van Zeijl and Hans Brouwer, as well as the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
With the funds, and together with foundry partner NXP Semiconductors, the startup plans to bring to production its RIC60 60GHz radar ICs for application in vehicle safety, but also to be used as a new precision sensor for personal security, industrial automation or environmental monitoring.
Operating in the 60GHz ISM band (57-64 GHz) and measuring only 7.0×7.0x1.2mm, this complete SiGe radar front end integrates one transmit- and two receive-antenna on the silicon die, allowing for the simultaneous detection of position, speed and angle of arrival for multiple objects.
With its 7GHz operational bandwidth, the chip can achieve higher position and speed accuracy than competing automotive radars solutions on the market, claims Omniradar.
“The precision is in the order of a few centimetres for discerning between objects”, told us Hans Brouwer, the company’s CEO, “with a practical sensing range up to 15m”.
The company chose the 60GHz ISM band because it is open, and not restricted to automotive applications.
“We could have also used the same technology in the higher frequency band (76-77GHz), but it had less bandwidth so less resolution. It is actually linear, so 1GHz bandwidth gives 1/7 the resolution of 7GHz. Resolution meaning the possibility to differentiate between two objects. For accuracy we can get to sub mm (100um) with the right processing of data, and using our PLL”, commented Brouwer.
But most importantly, “because the antennas are integrated in the die, radar system designers don’t have to worry about RF design” emphasized Brouwer, and the whole system could be 5 to 10 times smaller and cheaper than existing solutions.
This makes this sensor solution much easier to adopt, opening up new application areas where radar was never cost-effective or practical, benefiting from speed, resolution and the radar’s ability to “see through” obstacles.
“All that you need to get running is to add a signal processing unit such as an FPGA or a DSP and a small CPU”, added Brouwer who does not discard the possibility of producing such a System-in-Package if some high-volume industrial application justifies it in the future.
Although initially, Orlaco and Omniradar will work together to integrate radar blind spot detection across Orlaco’s range of products, in the future the radar IC could be used for 3D imaging, for geofencing in security applications, or to implement advanced proximity detection.
The company had its first round of silicon in 2012, then a second round in 2013, and this third IC iteration has come up with the necessary improvements for commercialization. It is stable and volume production is expected for the first quarter of 2015.
To further facilitate design, in the coming weeks the company will release an evaluation platform (the Omniradar Radar Development kit) for the RIC60A complete with an USB-interface board and sample MATLAB scripts for radar measurements and algorithm development on PC.
Soon to be released, Omniradar’s development kit.
A second version of the radar chip, RIC60B, has been designed without integrated antenna, to be used as a die or as part of a module with antenna arrays that Omniradar also offers to customize.
Visit Omniradar at www.omniradar.com