NI Provides mmWave Real-Time Technology to UT Austin

NI Automotive

National Instruments has announced a new partnership with UT Austin’s Situation-Aware Vehicular Engineering Systems (SAVES) initiative. NI is supplying technology for a mmWave real-time testbed to accelerate research on automated and self-driving cars. This testbed will play a key role in advancing autonomous driving by focusing on topics related to ultra-low latency, new radar waveforms and data analytics.

NI is delivering the technology for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and communication test in the 76 to 81 GHz range, based on NI’s mmWave front end technology and the recently released PXIe-5840 second-generation vector signal transceiver (VST). This testbed combines NI’s second-generation VST with banded, frequency-specific upconverters and downconverters designed to test the 76–81 GHz radar band with 1 GHz of real-time bandwidth. Engineers can use this LabVIEW and PXI-based system for radar target emulation and hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing to determine the responsiveness of the vehicular network link between the sensors and the central processing unit in the car. This is essential for making self-driving cars safer and more reliable by testing both the hardware and software distributed across multiple sensors in the car.

The new ADAS test solution offers a unique approach to radar characterization and testing with its scalable capability to conduct both traceable RF measurements and system simulation. The NI open platform approach to validate and test automotive electronics helps engineers quickly adapt their systems to address the challenges of new radar scenarios and the increasing complexity of sensor fusion combined with deep learning-enabled ECUs. The new solution also compresses the development and validation time of ADAS components and reduces the capital equipment costs and the total cost of ownership of HIL and test systems for ADAS.

SAVES, an initiative within the UT Austin Wireless Networking and Communications Group (WNCG), collaborates closely with the UT Austin Center for Transportation Research (CTR) to advance the frontier of vehicular engineering systems. This includes the fusion of sensor data, discovering the relevance of data to safety and traffic management, and communicating the high bandwidth of sensor data to base-station and cloud-based infrastructure. Deep machine learning and other data analytic methods bring both of these vectors together to enhance the driving experience. NI, Huawei and TOYOTA InfoTechnology Center are the three founding members of SAVES. While the Huawei research project concentrates on connecting communication and transportation performance metrics, the TOYOTA project focuses on position-aided beam alignment and low-frequency radar design and prototyping.

SAVES is bringing companies at the intersection of wireless communication, sensing and automotive together with stellar faculty and students at UT Austin. NI’s new ADAS test solution complements the other equipment at UT Austin, including an NI mmWave communication prototype and three test vehicles outfitted with radar, lidar, cameras and DSRC radios.