Automotive

"4D radar-on-a-chip" will keep watch inside cars from 2023

"4D radar-on-a-chip" will keep...
One tiny 4D radar chip can replace a bunch of sensors inside your car and add new safety features
One tiny 4D radar chip can replace a bunch of sensors inside your car and add new safety features
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One tiny 4D radar chip can replace a bunch of sensors inside your car and add new safety features
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One tiny 4D radar chip can replace a bunch of sensors inside your car and add new safety features
The interior sensor can underpin a bunch of safety features
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The interior sensor can underpin a bunch of safety features
Similar 4D radar chips will soon begin replacing sensors on the exterior of the car too
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Similar 4D radar chips will soon begin replacing sensors on the exterior of the car too
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Israeli company Vayyar says it can replace a bunch of car interior sensors with a single, hidden "4D radar" unit the size of a credit card, saving significant development costs while unlocking a range of upcoming safety features.

The multifunction radar-on-a-chip, or ROC, manages to pack 48 radar transceivers onto a coin-sized chip, allowing it to produce relatively high-resolution 3D point cloud maps of the entire interior of a vehicle. "All the other radars for in-cabin monitoring today use three transmit antennas and four receive antennas, their pixel size is about 50 cm," says Vayyar's Director of Business Development, Ian Podkamien, over a video call. "We have 24 x 24 antennas, which gives us a 5 cm pixel. You can see a shape, and not just a block."

This resolution enables the system to distinguish between adults, children and infants, to distinguish the rough shape of the body, and to sense your body position, all in a non-photographic method that doesn't invade anyone's privacy. The fourth dimension, of course, is time; it'll scan the car several times a second and track changes and movements over time.

It will thus be able to meet new requirements for back seat child and passenger detection, which will become mandatory in 2023. But its multifunction capability will give it the ability to drive a number of other systems as well. "You can use it for airbag optimization," says Podkamien. "So if you have a big football player or a five-year-old kid, you can optimize the strength of the airbag's deployment. Or if you put a baby in the front seat, you don't have to manually de-activate the airbag, the system will know and do it automatically. If somebody has their legs on the dashboard, it'll automatically, dynamically de-activate the airbag because the damage will be bigger. Those are just a few examples."

Vayyar's approach will make life easy for car companies, says Podkamien, since a single sensor will replace multiple systems in the car – child presence detection, seat weight sensors, pre-tensioner switches, and a number of sensors in the airbag system – for a unit price competitive with a single sensor. That's before considering the considerable cost of sourcing, integrating and testing all those switches.

The interior sensor can underpin a bunch of safety features
The interior sensor can underpin a bunch of safety features

Once it's installed in a car – probably invisibly, in the ceiling above the rear view mirror, hidden behind the headliner – the manufacturer will be able to run its own analysis on a 3D data stream that's pre-processed on the chip itself to handle the difficult task of filtering out interference and noise. From there, the car manufacturer can run all sorts of fun image processing and machine learning tech over the stream, and feed that information into any other system that needs it.

The software part of the process, says Podkamien, is much quicker and easier than any hardware integration job, and that means manufacturers will be able to use the ROC sensor for other purposes down the line, rolling out safety and feature upgrades over the air. "Some regulatory bodies are talking about analyzing the status of passengers after a car accident; we can help with that," he says, "It can play into driver attentiveness systems; if the driver's head is nodding, maybe they're getting tired. Gesture control can be achieved, and all with a single sensor."

"We've been in this business for a long time already," he continues. "Our solution is already automotive-grade qualified. We're in engagement with many Tier Ones and many OEMs. Practically, there will be a requirement for radar technology in the interiors of vehicles from 2023 and beyond. This is the change in the Euro NCAP protocols. I can't get into details, but you can expect to see this Vayyar solution embedded in vehicles in the 2023 models."

Similar 4D radar chips will soon begin replacing sensors on the exterior of the car too
Similar 4D radar chips will soon begin replacing sensors on the exterior of the car too

The company has another very similar system in development for the outside of the car, where ROCs on each corner of the vehicle, potentially even hidden under the skin, could replace the ultrasonic sensors, parking cameras, cross-traffic sensors, collision warning and blind-spot detection systems currently in use – again, in a multifunction unit that would provide a constant data stream that could be adapted to serve further purposes down the line. It wouldn't necessarily replace a LiDAR system for adaptive cruise control, but could certainly be used to augment it.

And Podkamien stresses this won't be just for fancy cars: "It's affordability," he says. "A single sensor that replaces multiple sensors, and even if you compare our cost against a single sensor for a single function, because of our highly integrated capabilities, we're comparable and even better in some cases. So it won't just be for high end cars."

Check out a video below.

Vayyar's 4D imaging radar sensor for in-car and ADAS safety

Source: Vayyar

View gallery - 3 images
6 comments
paul314
Couldn't possibly be any privacy implications in a realtime high-resolution map of every cubic inch of the interior of every car.
mnooch
It is a very small step to installing a camera. Additionally, insurance companies will be clamoring for this along with having access to the data collected by those sensors. They already offer discounts if you install one of their speed monitoring devices in your car. This will just become another potential income stream for insurance companies.
JeffK
And when this thing fails, does it have a failsafe mode, i.e. for airbags?
Eddy
A wonderful invention but I fear a hard sell to those opposing even 5G. Constant subjection to radar waves may not be all that beneficial for the tinfoil hat brigade.
Rusty Harris
"All in a non-photographic method that doesn't invade anyone's privacy. "

Anyone who believes this...raise your hand!
You can bet version 2, 3 etc will be watching everything, and, insurance companies will just have
a field day, not allowing a claim for an accident because the sensors show you were not looking
at the road for 0.0003 seconds.
Erik
Why would we need so many sensors that detect people inside the car though? Sounds pretty worthless to me.