Improving safety with integrated solutions for automotive radar

July 22, 2011 // By Jeff Postupack, Sam Weinstein, Analog Devices
Modern driver assist systems are an important factor to make road traffic safer. They rely on highly sophisticated sensors. Integrated radar frontends enable designers to reduce space requirements for these systems.

Safety is one of the most important issues in the automotive market today. More vehicles on the road and higher speeds increase the potential for accidents, while more comfortable cars mean that drivers can lose their sense of risk. An ageing population can also contribute to a higher rate of accidents.

Semiconductors are stepping up to meet these challenges and make cars safer. As crash detection begins to merge with other electronics in the vehicle, such as active safety systems, communications, and advanced driver assistance, the automobile is becoming more autonomous and more intelligent. Electronic systems that can act faster than the driver will be able to take control to reduce the severity and frequency of accidents, saving lives on the roads.

In the area of active safety, systems enabled by radar technology are becoming more prevalent. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) allows the driver to set a safe 'follow distance' to the car in front of them, and automatically accelerates and decelerates the car to keep that follow distance constant. Some systems also include automatic braking features that will apply the brakes if the car in front stops quickly or if an object blocks the road.


Figure 1:Tomorrow's car will have a nervous system of semiconductor sensors, logic, and signal conditioning that will make it more acutely aware of its environment and quicker thinking than its driver. Drivers will be in command, but not in control.

Similarly, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) in its simplest form informs the driver via a visual or audible signal when there is an object in the rear blind spot. There are also systems with autonomous features, such as prevention of lane change when an object is detected in the blind spot.


As in-car radar moves from being a luxury option to a standard safety feature, and from high-end to mid-range cars, the adoption and growth rates depend on the system cost. As radar

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