Driving towards the automotive radar test: Page 4 of 4

March 27, 2018 //By Matt Spexarth
Driving towards the automotive radar test
Radar has multiple advantages over alternative sensing technologies like cameras, ultrasound or LIDAR, securing its role in automotive active safety and autonomous driving well into the future.

When testing these functions at the system level, engineers need a test platform that can support a wide set of synchronized sensor simulations to emulate the entire sensed environment around the vehicle. Because the NI VRTS is built on PXI Express, the standard in modular, automated test equipment, engineers can support and emulate additional sensors by adding additional PXI modules such as NI FlexRIO to emulate digital camera inputs in sync with VRTS radar emulation.


Fig. 2: Validating the software for ADAS and autonomous driving requires synchronized emulation of multiple vehicle sensors so the vehicle 'thinks' it is driving in the real world.

Next, advanced modulation techniques will have an impact on the future of automotive radar testing. Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar has been the standard bearer for automotive radar. Radar designers are now looking to combine multiple antennas in a MIMO setup (multiple input – multiple output) to augment automotive radar capability to accurately detect obstacle elevation or even provide a raster image similar to a camera. Radar sensor researchers are demonstrating higher performance based on modulation schemes that are similar to those commonly used in cellular communication.   

This approach promises to improve radar resolution and field of view while enhancing the radar’s immunity to interference from other vehicles. In response, radar test systems must also grow in sophistication. Accurately emulating a person or vehicle at the resolution of these imaging radars may require demodulating individual radar channels, applying the obstacle effects of distance, Doppler and RCS for each transmit channel, and reflecting that obstacle back to the sensor – all at the roundtrip speed of light.  These new requirements will challenge radar test vendors and suppliers and will require a high bandwidth, low-latency system architecture with extreme signal processing capabilities.

About the author:

Matt Spexarth is Principal Solution Manager for Automotive Radar at National Instruments – www.ni.com

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