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Autonomous vehicles aren’t nearly as safe as the manufacturers would lead you to believe. As the amount of AVs increase, so will issues involving the jamming and interference of radar technologies meant to keep the consumer safe from harm. A solution may have already been invented and was put on display at the LA Automobility show this past week.
In December 2016, the Microwave Journal published this piece of advice to autonomous vehicle manufacturers everywhere: “Automotive radar sensors will need to cope with mutual interference mitigation techniques”
In 2105, a report to the FCC stated: “If two radars operating in overlapping bands are within the same vicinity, then some mutual interference will occur.”
There are expected to be 10 million cars on the road by 2020 with a self-driving feature. Current radars used in the automotive industry are not protected from “jamming” or being interfered with by other electrical devices within a radar’s region of coverage. Hackers with mischief or disruptive intent could produce a signal capable of incapacitating the vehicle’s radar, making the autonomous systems useless.
Likewise, even during normal operation, radar-based sensors are highly susceptible to interfere with or be interfered with by other electrical devices! This can lead to malfunction, disablement of sensors impacting safety, traffic flow, and driving convenience, especially in high-traffic areas. For those folks currently driving Teslas or other AVs, this doesn’t increase consumer confidence in a vehicle they took a leap of faith to buy in the first place.
Most sensors can only detect an object and its distance and alert the driver if they are getting close. Systems that rely on sound waves have difficulty in rainy conditions. Cameras do not detect objects or alert the driver in poor visibility.
The solution to this very real problem was developed by The Ohio State University which owns four patents for radar-based systems and deal with RF noise and radar that identifies and classifies obstacles. It breaks the issue down into two categories; RF Noise Radar and Vehicle Obstacle Radar.
RF Noise Radar: This is a small, low power stealthy radar that cannot be easily detected and is less susceptible to interference from other electronic devices. It also optimizes the signal to clutter ratio and adapts to identify and/or classify specific targets, which means it’s less likely to be impeded by other vehicles signals or electronic hijinks.
Vehicle Obstruction Radar: VOR combines a radar array with a unique algorithm and uses a single continuous wave frequency, (very narrow band) and cannot interfere with signals at other frequencies. The beauty of this technology is that can accurately detect distance, angle, position, and the size and shape of objects, thus discriminating between “high priority” and “low priority” objects.
The technology was licensed by Mr. Dean Zody, CEO of GhostWave from the Ohio State University. GhostWave has partnered with Eric Walton PH.D, a retired professor at OSU and the inventor of this crucial technology in an effort to equip tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles with the necessary safety features to provide consumers with peace of mind and a safe, enjoyable driving experience.