Mercedes-Benz expects to be the first to market a car featuring a new generation of short-range radar that could reduce the risk of accidents.
The 24GHz system, developed by Mercedes parent DaimlerChrysler and supplier Tyco, will be offered on the S class sometime this year, possibly in time for September’s IAA in Frankfurt.
D/C considers the system, which warns drivers of an imminent collision, a safety application that is more advanced than radar-based adaptive cruise control (ACC) technology currently available, said spokesman Matthias Brock. He declined to elaborate on specific features, including whether the system is part of an existing ACC system.
ACC typically uses longer-range 76GHz or 77GHz radar to maintain a set following distance and vehicle speed.
Among the most advanced is a 1mm-wave 76GHz system that is standard equipment on the LS sedan from Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand. That system can prepare for a possible collision by gently pre-tensioning seat belts and pre-arming the brake-assist system, said Toyota technology spokesman Pedro Pacheco.
The safety capabilities of 24GHz radar technology are shown by this blind spot detection system being developed by Valeo and Raytheon. It can alert a driver to potential collisions with unseen vehicles.
Jaguar spokesman Ken McConomy said a Delphi ACC system has been standard equipment on the XKR for four years.
But 24GHz systems work better at close range and can offer more safety applications – including fully automatic stop-and-go cruise control, blind-spot detection and lane-changing assistance, front- and rear-collision warning, parking assistance and pedestrian detection.
With combined long- and short-range radar, researchers believe more advanced systems could even automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of an unavoidable collision.
Europe in the lead
Several suppliers are working on 24GHz systems for automotive short-range radar applications. A decision by the European Commission earlier this year to open the 24GHz frequency for automotive use means Mercedes may not be alone in the market for long.
In the past 18 months, many automakers have asked TRW Automotive about developing short-range systems, said Ken Lowe, TRW’s European steering and driver assistance systems senior project manager. And because 24GHz systems use relatively inexpensive components, he said: “There will be some real inroads into lower-segment vehicles.”
Valeo is developing a blind-spot assistance system for a major automaker, said spokeswoman Sophie Porte.
D/C, TRW and Valeo are part of a group of automakers and suppliers lobbying for use of the 24GHz frequency in North America, Europe and Japan. America’s Federal Communications Commission approved 24GHz for automotive use in 2002, but Lowe said “consumer preferences” there mean Europe would probably be the first major market for short-range radar.
Other members of the Short-range Automotive Radar frequency Allocation (SARA) group include BMW, Fiat, Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co., Porsche, General Motors, Robert Bosch, Takata, Siemens VDO Automotive, Delphi and Hella.
In Europe, automotive systems will change to 79GHz by 2013 because a large number of cars using radar could interfere with other wireless services, according to the European Commission.