Radar, a technology invented more than a century ago and first widely used during World War II, could soon improve the performance of automated driving systems.
While technology companies often highlight laser-based lidar sensors as a key enabler of automated driving, experts say next-generation radar sensors may hold some advantages. Namely, it has greater capability during bad weather and may be more cost effective.
"Radar just does what people want it to do," said Matt Markel, president of startup Spartan Radar and former head of radar at self-driving technology company Waymo. "It's unlike lasers, which when running, can essentially be useless in fog. Radar sees right through it."
Radar made its automotive debut in the 1990s as a component in adaptive cruise control applications. Now, companies are exploring 4D imaging radar, which can provide perception, velocity information on targets and a lidar-like point cloud.
In today's automated vehicles, cameras, lidar and radar serve complementary roles. Going forward, imaging radar could not only improve its performance in that same setup, it could also supplant lidar.