Studies show that virtually every driver has experienced dangerous incidents or close-calls relating to changing lanes with an unseen, nearby car in the blind spot. Just in the US, blind spot detection errors each year cause 826,000 damaged vehicles, 160,000 injuries;,hundreds of deaths, and over $36 billion in damages.
Various attempts at solving this problem through multiple technologies have met with limited success due to external conditions, including extreme external temperatures, fog, rain, snow or mud, and false alarms due to proximity to infrastructure such as bridges or guard rails. In addition, technologies with wideband radar are subject to strict European statutory limitations, and eventual banning.
The joint venture Valeo Raytheon Systems is devoted to designing and manufacturing radar sensor systems for automakers around the world, utilizing Raytheon's advanced phased array radar technology and Valeo's knowledge of the automotive industry. Their PACE winning application is for the Multi-Beam Radar for Blind-Spot Detection.
The core radar technology from Raytheon has undergone massive compression and shift from mechanical to silicon based function. It represents a fundamentally new capability. The key advantage of the technology is that it offers reliable, intuitive guidance with minimal intrusion into the driver's consciousness, to alert the driver to a vehicle present in a blind spot. The technology offers automaker-programmable detection zones and alert modes. The radar unit is a small box that can be mounted on the inside of fascia or body panels. The radar technology offers promise for additional future safety applications.
The Multi-Beam Radar is in production for 2007 vehicles for a large North American OEM and is scheduled for production with several other automakers. Valeo Raytheon Systems has shown a commitment to invest in a difficult technological path with confidence that it will win an important long term role in the industry.