Radar research could offer breakthrough for autonomous vehicle technology

The research shows low bandwith radars can achieve similar performance to high bandwith radars, but at a lower cost and without broadband signals, which could help autonomous vehicles.

An illustration of the partially coherent radar operation schematics (photo credit: NATURE COMMUNICATIONS)
An illustration of the partially coherent radar operation schematics
A novel approach to radar technology developed by Tel Aviv University researchers has found that, contrary to popular belief, radar accuracy is not necessarily dependent on the range of frequencies or bandwidth in use.
Breaking with long-held principles guiding the development of radar technologies for years, notably linking greater frequency range to increased accuracy, the scientists’ unorthodox method – inspired by Optical Coherence Tomography – enables precise and high-resolution mapping of the surrounding environment with little to no bandwidth.
The new concept could provide solutions in fields including the autonomous car industry, optical imaging and astronomy where accuracy is required but bandwidth is limited.
The study was led and conducted jointly by Prof. Pavel Ginzburg, Vitali Kozlov, Rony Komissarov and Dmitry Filonov, all of Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering. The findings have been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
“Here we demonstrate a different type of ranging system, which possesses superior range resolution that is almost completely free of bandwidth limitations,” said Prof. Ginzburg.
“This new technology has numerous applications, especially with respect to the automotive industry. It is worth noting that existing facilities support our new approach, which could be launched almost immediately to existing platforms to outperform outdated solutions.”
By exploiting the coherence property of electromagnetic waves, the researchers said, low bandwidth radars can achieve similar performance to high bandwidth radars, but at a lower cost and without broadband signals.
Their unconventional “partially coherent” radar has experimentally demonstrated an improvement over an order of magnitude in resolving targets, compared to standard coherent radars with the same bandwidth.
“While today not many cars on the road use radars and, as a result, there is almost no competition for allocated frequencies, what will happen in the future, when every car will be equipped with a radar and everyone will demand the entire bandwidth?” said Kozlov.
“We will find ourselves in a sort of ‘radio traffic’ jam. Here, achieving better performances with smaller bandwidth offers a necessary solution, allowing us to share the bandwidth without any clash.”
Research was carried out at the Tel Aviv University Radio Physics Laboratory’s anechoic chamber, and supported by a European Research Council grant and the KAMIN research incentive program.
“Our demonstration is just the first step in a series of new approaches to radio-frequency detections, exploring the impact of low bandwidth radars on traditional fields,” said Prof. Ginzburg. “We intend to apply this technology to areas previously unexplored.”