With the rapid advances across the automotive radar technology, the capabilities of test and measurement systems must be continuously enhanced. Here we discuss some innovative test solutions launched in recent times by well-known T&M firms.
Autonomous vehicles are one of today’s most fascinating technological innovations. Customer demand for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like blind-spot detection, lane-change assist and cross-traffic alerts, autonomous emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control has led to an increasing number of radar sensors per car. Radar is used to improve driving efficiency and safety in conjunction with other technologies like ultrasound and cameras.
Car manufacturers are incorporating radar systems that operate at either 24 and/or millimeter-wave frequencies at 77 GHz. Traditionally many of the radar sensors use frequencies in the 24 Hz band which caters to short-term radar applications and able to detect objects below 30 meter distances. But due to spectrum regulations, the use of some of these frequencies will be phased out by 2022.
Meanwhile, the automotive industry is seeing an increased adoption of 77 GHz band (from 76 – 81 GHz), which supports LRR and will be able to provide both short and long-range detection for future automotive radars. This high-frequency band can easily handle distances between 30 and 200 meters and offers a variety of benefits including the use of smaller antennas, high accuracy, and the ability to detect movements that are as small as a fraction of a millimeter. Some applications of this band include adaptive cruise control (ACC), blind-spot detection (BSD), emergency braking, forward collision warning (FCW), and rear collision protection (RCP).
While testers at lower frequencies have been found in abundance, there is a strong focus in the accurate and cost-effective testing of 77GHz automotive radar to expand the adoption of the technology.
Solutions meet automotive radar test challenges
Many major instrument makers, including Rohde & Schwarz, Anritsu, Keysight technologies and Tektronix, offer solutions for testing automotive radar.
Rohde & Schwarz, for instance, has developed a range of radar test equipment. The company launched the new R&S AREG100A automotive radar echo generator, which supports reliable testing of radar sensors in production and supports all automotive radar bands (24GHz, 76GHz and 79GHz). The system ensures the unrestricted functionality of radar sensors for installation in vehicles, even before they are driven.
Automotive radars are often located behind bumpers and brand emblems. The materials of these covers or radomes should allow the radar signals to pass through as uniformly and unhindered as possible.
Rohde & Schwarz developed the automotive radome scanner R&S QAR, created specifically to characterize the performance of radar covers such as emblem radomes and car bumpers. “The test solution uses an innovative imaging technique that allows very fast measurement of the reflectivity of the device under test,” said the firm. Car manufacturers can now localise and identify any material errors or in-homogeneous material that might impact the sensor’s performance.
Keysight recently unveiled a new improved version of its Automotive Radar Signal Analysis and Generation System E8740A, which it says allows developers of vehicle electronics to more precisely analyze the function of driver assistance systems and helps these systems to proactively detect and mitigate risks of collisions.
The Keysight E8740A performs analysis and generation of automotive radar signals across full frequency ranges for 24GHz, 77 GHz and 79 GHz radar and provides scalable analysis bandwidth from 2.5 GHz to > 5 GHz, depending on test requirements.
NI’s Vehicle Radar Test System (VRTS) is an optimal solution which can lower the cost of validation and test of automotive radar and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), according to the company. The system, functioning as both a 76–81 GHz vector signal generator/analyzer and an obstacle simulator, can test 76–81 GHz radar technology both as stand-alone radar sensors or as a part of ADAS in a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) environment. It scales from a base configuration that can emulate two obstacles to advanced configurations that can emulate up to four independent obstacles per radio head.