RISE ICT stories: New radar technology improves traffic safety

The Swedish Transport Administration’s vision of zero traffic fatalities and the EU’s traffic safety objectives for 2020 together pose enormous challenges. Smarter monitoring systems based on millimeter-wave radar are part of the solution to help reduce the number of accidents on roads and railroads. RISE Acreo, DENSO, Qamcom and Amparo are working together to develop next-generation radar sensors for safer traffic.

The number of fatalities among railroad passengers has fallen across the entire EU, but accidents at grade crossings between trains and automobiles still lead to around 1,500 fatal accidents every year, as well as causing significant injury, property damage and traffic delays. And despite a fall in the number of drivers dying in traffic accidents, the number of fatalities and injuries among unprotected people such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists continues to rise.

In 1997, the Swedish Parliament passed a resolution defining a long-term vision and goal of zero fatalities or serious injuries in road and railroad traffic. In addition, the EU policy orientations for road safety 2011–2020 aim to halve the number of fatal accidents on Europe’s roads over the coming ten years. Society and market demands for better Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have led to a need for more effective radar technology to improve traffic safety.

Radar sensors, components and systems that work across broader bandwidths at higher frequencies have significant advantages. An increased bandwidth offers significantly improved quality and precision in the identification of obstacles. Higher frequencies also lead to smaller microwave components and antennas, allowing for smaller and more integrated sensors which, when produced in high volume, will be less expensive than today’s larger sensors.

“Another advantage, when you move to a higher frequency band, is the opportunity to develop a global standard for a multifunctional radar sensor that supports all ADAS and ITS functions, from long-distance to close-proximity applications,” says Michael Salter from RISE Acreo.

The companies involved with the project represent the entire value chain, from technological development, prototype manufacturing, and in-product operational system testing (road testing). The project, which started in September 2015 and will continue to August 2017, is funded by Vinnova as part of the Strategic Innovation Program for Smarter Electronic Systems.

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