Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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Engineers Aim to Make Cars Safer with Phased-Array Radar Tech

Phased array radar system for missile defense

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A team of engineers from the University of California, San Diego has developed hardware for a new generation automobile radar system designed to keep drivers and unseen pedestrians safe.

Electrical engineering researchers from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering developed an advanced automotive phased-array radar system that is a crucial element in a high-precision automotive radar system.

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Prior research by UC San Diego electrical engineering professor Gabriel Rebeiz, a leader in phased-array technology research, was built upon by the new engineering team.

The new system is the first time RF (radio frequency) beam forming phased-array technologies have been used in radar systems designed to be fitted onto civilian automobiles. Beam forming phased-array technologies use organized clusters of directional antennas and are often seen in defense and satellite applications.

The new radar system for cars takes high-resolution images of an area 100 meters around the moving vehicle. The data obtained is far more comprehensive than that provided by first-generation vehicle radar systems currently installed in a number of cars.

The experimental phased radar system was described by Rebeiz as akin to a telescope or a "zoom" lens. Moving right or left, the array of antennas moves in a regular pattern across the area around the vehicle,

The array takes high-resolution photos of what is currently happening with a delay of less than a microsecond. The technology is a far-cry from current radar systems that perform like wide-angle lenses able to discern less detail.

"If you have a large wide-angle lens, you are collecting all this bright light; you will not see the faint light of a person standing in front of a truck or car. The second generation automotive radar systems will provide much more precise images," Rebeiz explained. "The difference is the high resolution and dynamic range."

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