Long-range hi-res 3D radar demonstrated

  • February 6, 2020
  • imc

Xerox PARC spin-out Metawave has demonstrated its analogue beam-steering radar, SPEKTRA. The company claims its technology is the most accurate and intelligent automotive radar available today, able to clearly detect vehicles beyond 300 meters and pedestrians beyond 200 meters with the highest angular resolution. 

Metawave has filed for 150+ patents to date and received its first issued patent in 2019. 

SPEKTRA depends on Metawave’s MARCONI 77GHz phase controllers and mmWave integrated circuits. The company says that when used with its proprietary calibration system, enable the transmit and receive beams to be precisely steered in steps of 0.1º in the range of ±22º. 

SPEKTRA’s high angular resolution enables it to distinguish between objects right next to each other (such as a car and biker). Its narrow beams in the analogue domain enable it to quickly detect objects in the vehicle’s field of view (FoV) with very high accuracy while avoiding interference. Its focused beams and small cross-sections allow SPEKTRA to detect objects, such as pedestrians and hazardous road objects, at long ranges and in all weather conditions. Further, the narrow beam and high angular precision allows SPEKTRA to track cross-traffic, a difficult problem for traditional radar.

Rich Dauber, Director of 77GHz Radar Platforms for Veoneer commented, “Metawave has essentially packaged a front-end radar using their own phase controllers, antenna array, and calibration control tables using a single transceiver radar chip to achieve impressive transmit and receive performance. Their CES SPEKTRA demonstration showed long-range performance with excellent angular accuracy and resolution.” Veoneer designs, compiles and sells state-of-the-art software, hardware and systems for active safety, autonomous driving, occupant protection, and brake control.

In the coming months, Metawave plans to launch AWARE, a proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) platform that enables SPEKTRA to perform real-time object classification and labelling for more efficient and faster Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) processing. 

Due to its machine learning sensor fusion platform, AWARE enables SPEKTRA to deliver accuracy in storms, darkness, and dense fog, even as vehicles travel at highway speeds.

“We have been impressed with what Metawave has accomplished and demonstrated to date,” said John Suh, Head of Hyundai CRADLE at Hyundai Motor Company. “The beamsteering capability will enable a new generation of automotive radar.”

SPEKTRA’s ability to detect and classify objects beyond 300 meters is due to an ability to focus extremely narrow beams across the vehicle’s entire FoV. 

Metawave claims it is the only automotive radar company to demonstrate a calibrated phased array and front-end solution using one single conventional Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar transceiver chip, enabling analogue beamforming signals. The claims that traditional radars use four or more transceiver chips for digital beamforming or they ‘flash’ a wide FoV, limiting range and preventing their ability to accurately distinguish between objects that are close in proximity.

Metawave is engaging with select customers to participate in the SPEKTRA proof-of-concept evaluation programme, allowing automotive leaders to affordably test the next generation radar for highly automated and autonomous driving, while having access to Metawave experts and its state-of-the-art labs. By offering the flexibility to extract raw data from the radar sensor, customers can run their own algorithms and process SPEKTRA data within their software stack.

“In an incredibly short amount of time we have delivered an impressive radar that automakers need,” remarked Metawave CEO and founder, Maha Achour. “We’re excited to be the first to demonstrate such capabilities and we truly believe that future radars will include analogue beamforming modes. Seeing the excitement during CES reassured us that we followed the right path. I am proud of my team. They bring extreme expertise and passion to work, day after day. I owe a great deal to our dedicated customers, partners, and investors who have been significant in getting us to this point in Metawave’s exciting history.”

Radar is a critical sensor when deploying highly automated and autonomous driving. According to Markets and Markets, the Global Automotive Radar Market is predicted to reach $6.61 billion by 2021. Radar’s ability to provide accurate velocity information, under complicated driving conditions, makes it imperative for autonomous vehicle deployment and growth.

“Metawave is making incredible strides in demonstrating what advanced radar is capable of achieving,” said Tony Cannestra, Director of Corporate Ventures for the North American Research and Engineer Centre at DENSO. “Automakers and Tier 1 suppliers are looking for a new kind of sensor that can detect and classify at long ranges, separate stationary objects at long range, and perform well in inclement weather conditions and in the dark. Metawave has proven its analogue beamsteering radar can help achieve this. We look forward to continuing our work with them, and other startups, to make the world’s roads safer by advancing new technologies.”

Metawave says that SPEKTRA provides automakers with the ability to deliver ADAS and safety features, including left turn assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam pilot, highway pilot, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, etc.

“Metawave continues to demonstrate innovation in analogue beamsteering technology and their new 77GHz RFIC is an important component to enable this technique,” said Ritesh Tyagi, Head of the Automotive Innovation Centre at Infineon. “Infineon looks forward to working with new RFIC developments like these and use them in conjunction with its market-proven transceiver solutions to bring the technology to the market.”