Continental’s New Radar Sensors Offer 360-Degree Coverage With a Longer Range
Over the last two decades, Continental has launched more than 100 million radar sensors on the market worldwide. Continental is unveiling its sixth generation of long-range radar and surround radar. Production is scheduled to start in 2023, and initial customer orders have already been received.
Both radar sensors share a software and hardware platform, reducing complexity and costs. Testing and development efforts on the customer side are also reduced. Performance is significantly increased compared to the fifth generation. As a scalable solution, the radars cover a range of applications, including implementing functions for higher levels of automation in a premium variant, such as automated lane change. They support a range of vehicle architectures and types through their availability as smart radar, with data processing in the sensor and as satellite radar, with data processing in a central control unit.
“Radar sensors are a cornerstone of driving safety. They will be essential to capture and process reliable data in increasingly challenging traffic situations in the future. This includes, for example, autonomous emergency braking for cross traffic at intersections and the early detection of motorized cyclists,” explained Arnaud Lagandre, head of Advanced Driver Assistant Systems for Continental North America. “With the sixth generation of our radar sensors, we are contributing to an even safer and more comfortable experience for all road users.”
Long-range radar covers predictive applications for NCAP requirements up to automated driving functions.© Continental
In addition to developing the long-range radar with a range of around 250 meters, the designs also focus on 360-degree environmental detection. With a range of about 200 meters, these future surround radars have a significantly greater degree than previous short-range radars, laying the foundation for excellent results in future NCAP assessments of assistance systems. Thanks to more excellent responsiveness, surround radars detect objects such as crossing vehicles, motorcycles and cyclists earlier and more precisely, even when located in challenging installation positions in the car. For the areas on the side of the car, surround radars have features that make both advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving more powerful.
Mastering the challenges of 360-degree environmental detection
To ensure reliable all-around monitoring of the vehicle’s surroundings using radar technology, radars must be placed at the front and rear corners of the car, behind the painted bumpers. This is a challenge in sensor technology, as reflection and absorption effects on the bumper structure and coating can affect radar signals. Therefore, the long-range radar in the middle of the vehicle front has a protective cover, a so-called radome, made of radio wave-permeable plastic over the sensor.
The surrounding radars detect objects such as crossing vehicles, motorcycles and cyclists early and precisely.
Several patent-pending solutions increase the responsiveness of the radar sensors, which means that despite damping by painted bumpers at the corners, better detection reliability is available. The new sensors have dimensions of just around 70 x 55 x 20 millimetres (without plug connector and holder) are almost 40 percent more compact than the fifth generation. This opens up new integration options, such as in the vehicle sill, for implementing a side radar.
“In general, with the sixth generation, we are improving the initial conditions for installing radar sensors in the vehicle,” added Lagandre. “Scaling in multiple power levels allows a wide range of vehicle segments to be covered with the ASIL-B-compliant platform within a sensor series.”
The new surround range and long-range radars work at 77 gigahertz (GHz) as standard but are prepared for the band between 77 and 81 GHz and consequently offer the advantages of a larger frequency band. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, radars in road traffic also filter out signals from other radar sensors – an essential issue with increasing equipment rates – and process only their own signals.
Tried-and-tested properties of the current fifth-generation of radar sensors have also been retained in the sixth generation. These include modular and scalable hardware and software, which allows the sensors to be integrated equally into different E/E architectures with more or less local sensor intelligence. The scope of functions also includes auto-alignment for correcting a suboptimal sensor alignment.