Radar based object detection- 6 Different ways it is transforming the autonomous system’s navigation

Date: October 11, 2018

In our previous blog, we discussed the mechanism of a radar system and how it is spearheading the innovation in autonomous driving cars. For autonomous systems, crawling in an urban environment is a herculean task. Identifying objects in its vicinity is the primary objective so that collisions are avoided. As a result, one of the primary applications of radar in automotive and other industrial application is object detection.

Radar-based systems are preferred in object detection compared to other systems - based on Lidar and imaging - because of their cost-effectiveness and accuracy in object detection and their ability to function in harsh working conditions. Moreover, Radar has longer range and provides multiple returns per azimuth.

Primary goal being object-detection, radar systems have numerous applications in various domains. Some of the applications of radar systems are: -


Object detection

Object detection- Identifying any object in the vicinity of the vehicle and alerting the driver of the same in case of ADAS. In case of autonomous driving, the same information is interpreted in a similar manner and preventive measures - to overcome any collision - are taken by the car itself. A detailed account of the object detection mechanism based on the radar is discussed here.

Blind spot monitoring- Wing Mirrors or rear-view mirrors do not cover the entire region on the sides of the car which makes it difficult for the drivers to perform tasks such as lane changing and parking. As a result, radar-based blind spot monitoring systems are attached to the wing mirror. This system gives out an alert signal in the form of a blinking light on the mirror confirming that there is an object irrespective of whether it is stationary or moving.

The detailed technical aspects of blind spot monitoring have been explained here.

Park assists- This application of radar-based system works in association with a camera mounted on the rear bumper of a vehicle. Objects that are usually not covered by the camera are picked up by radar. Rework In this application, radar-based park assist system can work without a camera wherein the driver is alerted that there is an object in the vicinity of parking.

Cross traffic alerts- While merging into a lane from an intersection, movement of the vehicles from other lanes is sometimes not visible to human eye due to the length of the vehicle and its driver’s position. To solve this, the entire length of the vehicle is dotted with radar systems and in case any vehicle is actually present in the lane, the system alerts the driver to take preventive measures.

Occupancy detection- There have been few instances of negligence wherein pets and infants were forgotten in a parked vehicle. In order to keep such events at bay, Radar system - mounted inside the cabin - identifies whether there is any living entity inside the vehicle and alerts the driver about it.

Adaptive cruise control- cruise controls in use have a usually small buffer speed to overcome ups and downs on the road. Adaptive cruise control measures the velocity of the vehicle in front and adjusts the speed accordingly so as a result, a proper predefined gap is maintained in between the vehicles and unnecessary braking is prevented which in turn increases the overall efficiency of the vehicle.

Traffic monitoring- The flow of traffic on freeways is one of the major factors to overcome gridlocks. Traffic monitoring system uses radar-based object detection and manages signals accordingly so that there is an easy flow of traffic.


Obstacles detection

Obstacles detection (for autonomous systems)- Robots and other industrial automation devices operate with their human counterparts. This leads to probable interference in their path as a result object identification is required so as to avoid it and take necessary preventive measures to avoid a collision or an altercation. Radar-based systems which have good accuracy indoor are deployed for object detection.

Wire detection (for drones)- Drones are now a part of our lifestyle with necessary regulatory norms by all the governing bodies. One of the major hurdles faced by these drones are getting tangled in wires while flying, in most of the cases, users themselves tend to avoid these wires while flying with the help of a monitor used to navigate. But in most cases, it is difficult. To overcomes this, radar-based system is used to identify any wires in the path of flight and drones themselves can take necessary preventive measure to avoid wires.

Velocity measurement- Ever since vehicles are capable to achieve great speed on the streets, it is becoming difficult for speed enforcing departments to identify the actual velocity and penalize the drivers. Radar in form of handheld device is used to identify the precise velocity of the vehicle. Not only the enforcement department but also other velocity measurement applications depend on the radar-based system.

People counting- When any crowd gathering happens it is mandatory to have a count of gathering for easy monitoring. It is cumbersome to do this manually, to achieve the actual count of gathering radar-based systems are used.

Building security- Camera based system requires constant monitoring and the capital investment for such a system is on the higher side. As a result, radar-based systems are used wherein an intruder is detected by means of radar-based object detection systems, these systems are sophisticated enough to identify stationary and moving objects as well as clear differentiation of actual person and an object.

Movement detection for active lights- With advancement IoT and the same tech being used in home automation, conventional lights are being replaced by smart lights which are connected to the cloud. These lights are activated as per command or as an when users enter the vicinity. To identify the presence of a user radar-based systems are used, which at an economical cost are able to identify the user and in turn take necessary action such as switching on the lights.

Mapping- Location identification is mandatory for an autonomous system for ease of navigation. Autonomous systems use technologies like GPS and SLAM these technologies rely on radar for their primary data to identify objects and landmark upon identification of landmarks and objects the camera-based systems are activated and identifies the location.

Height measurement- For tall structure it is difficult to measure the height, users usually opt for Lidar devices to measure the height of the object. However, Lidar systems lack the accuracy and operating efficiency, hence radar-based systems are used to identify the precise height of the object.

Further reading

Interested in Radar Automotive application?
Here is our radar series of blogs explaining Automotive Radar

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