OU radar researchers help develop automated driving system

A radar research team at the University of Oklahoma is playing a big role in the development of highly automated driving.

Members of the Advanced Radar Research Center partnered with California-based Metawave Corporation and recently demonstrated the world’s first automated 77GHz electronically steerable antenna calibration system.

In recent news Metawave announced the demonstration of its millimeter-wave analog phase controller, also a critical component that enables analog beamsteering radar for highly automated driving, an important step toward full autonomy.

The innovative design eliminates typical limitations and failures of existing radars while extending detection range and enhancing angular resolution. The flexibility of WARLORD facilitates multi-modal radar operation, delivers automated multi-target tracking, and greatly reduces interference.

The calibration system was completed in partnership with The University of Oklahoma Advanced Radar Research Center (ARRC) at the Radar Innovation Lab (RIL), a research facility directed by Dr. Robert Palmer. “Working with Metawave at these high-frequency bands has been a rewarding experience for our team and has benefitted our program, considering our leadership role in radar calibration,” said Palmer. “This type of partnership is important, especially when delivering cutting-edge technology. Together, we are rethinking how a newly designed radar can truly serve as one of the most important sensors in the future of the automotive industry.”

At the ARRC, Dr. Jorge Salazar leads the Phased Array Antenna and Development (PAARD) group that focuses on the design of high-performance active antennas for multifunction phased array radars, including integration, characterization, and calibration from S- to W-bands. Dr. Salazar has vast experience in the design and calibration of phased array antennas. He is a professor and researcher at the school of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Oklahoma.

“Working with antenna designs for very high frequencies is challenging, especially when the concept involves a radar designed to save lives by improving automobile safety,” said Dr. Salazar. “Active electronically scanned arrays have not been previously utilized in automobile technology. The challenges of this project required an uncommon skill-set and experience in active phased array antennas. Having the opportunity to work with the Metawave team of creative engineers to calibrate their 77GHz radar antenna was a fantastic experience for my team. It made the development of this complex project much easier and realizable in a short time,” Salazar emphasized.

Dr. Salazar assembled a diverse team of experts in radar design and calibration from the Advanced Radar Research Center to enable the acceleration of this project. A novel millimeter RF scanner was designed, implemented, validated, and tested with Metawave in a very impressive few months. The customized RF scanner enables testing and calibration of an active array in near-field and far-field operating modes.

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