German Tier 1 supplier ZF has launched production use of its Imaging Radar technology in China’s SAIC Motor Corporation’s R-Series vehicles. These are the same vehicles previously announced to use Luminar Technologies Inc.’s lidar sensors for their planned Highway Autonomy and Proactive Safety systems.
“Our new R brand line of vehicles will combine the best technology with luxury and comfort, and autonomous capabilities are central to that vision,” said Yang Xiaodong, vice president of SAIC.
The global automotive 4D imaging radar market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 20 percent between 2022 and 2027, according to research by Mark Ntel Advisors. “The integration of the 4D imaging radar sensors has provided reliability for its operation in extreme weather conditions and illumination due to no optics involved in the performance of this technology,” reports the company’s research study, “Automotive 4D Imaging Radar Market Research Report: Forecast (2022-2027).”
“The development of the long-range radar type of 4D imaging provides an extensive opportunity for the manufacturing and commercialization of Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles owing to its vast range of threat analysis features which would boost the demand for long-range radar in the forecast period,” continues the report.
ZF’s Imaging radar (which was previously branded as Full-Range Radar” perceives a vehicle’s surroundings in four dimensions: range, velocity, azimuth (horizontal) and elevation (vertical).
Including elevation for the fourth “D” helps generate an enhanced 3D image of the traffic situation. Combining that with velocity produces a dense digitally processed environmental model.
This can be particularly valuable for detecting the end of a traffic jam (hurray!), even under a bridge or in a tunnel. More importantly, the imaging radar provides brake warnings and can potentially trigger Automatic Emergency Braking if a driver is not responding. The system also detects the edge of the road and whether there are passing zones ahead.
A wide aperture angle of 120 degrees applies to a wide range of situations and its flexible mounting options around the vehicle provide 360-degree coverage over a distance as far as 350 meters at the 77 gigahertz band. Market growth of radar is expected to be especially strong in the class of devices with a range of 300 meters or more, according to Mark Ntel Advisors.
Conventional radar units typically employ three transmitters and four receivers to create 12 data channels. By comparison, ZF's Imaging Radar generates a total of 192 channels. This high information density enables detailed object recognition so that it can detect challenging objects like a child in the road as much as five times better than typical radars, ZF claims. It is so precise, ZF says that Imaging Radar can even detect the movement of individual limbs, which can potentially identify which direction the pedestrian is walking.
“We are pleased to launch ZF’s Imaging Radar technology to enhance the advanced driver assist and semi-automated functions for SAIC’s R- series vehicles. This represents an important step forward in sensing technology,” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of ZF’s Electronics and ADAS division.
“With its high levels of object and scene recognition and long-range detection, the Imaging Radar is key in helping to meet the increasing perception requirements of highly assisted L3 and L4 Autonomous Driving at a competitive price level, while significantly increasing the potential performance of advanced safety and L2-plus ADAS driving applications.”