Customized Phase Controllers Provide Better Beam-Steering for 77 GHz Automotive Radars

Advanced radar and wireless communications expert, Metawave, has demonstrated a first-of-a-kind phase controller to power its 77 GHz automotive radar platform (WARLORD) for automotive and broad transportation applications. The phase controllers will also be deployed with Metawave’s novel antenna arrays to power its SABER platform for 5G and fixed wireless unlicensed deployments. All of Metawave’s platforms are integrated with AWARE, Metawave’s proprietary AI software for object detection and classification as well as potential network planning and data load management for wireless deployments.

In order to deliver a platform that could steer pencil-thin beams with high resolution, Metawave’s had to build its own high-precision phase controllers. Phase controllers at such high frequencies, did not exist in the market. The performance of the 77 GHz phase controllers have exceeded expectations in that they have lower insertion loss than existing off-the-shelf phase controllers used for lower frequency applications. Metawave is now looking forward to deliver an entire system that can offer analog beam-steering to revolutionize autonomous driving, based on their SOA phase controller.

Metawave’s phase controller allows the heavy lifting required for precision beam-shaping and steering control to be done in the analog space vs. pure digital. The results are dependable and repeatable. The primary analog platform requires less power, creates low insertion loss, and allows for faster processing and reaction time in-vehicle or in the wireless communication deployment. Metawave’s proprietary phase controllers are initially built using GaAs materials, and will be ultimately built using SiGe and CMOS, to meet specific demands of customer applications.

Without this phase controller and its tight integration with the antenna array elements, effective analog beam-steering is not possible. This gives Metawave a significant foothold in the IP required to bring next-generation automotive radar to market. It will be interesting to see how the incumbent chip vendors respond. 

Metawave’s advances will have near-term impact on existing OEM programs that consist of the building blocks of full autonomy. WARLORD represents an inexpensive, high-resolution sensor that can overcome many of the challenges (i.e. cut-in and cut-out scenarios) in automatic emergency breaking (AEB), highway pilot (HWP, aka traffic-jam pilot, “super-cruise,” etc.), and forward-collision warning systems (FCWS). Existing radar cannot take this auto functionality to the next level of safety and autonomy, and OEMs are relying on more expensive sensors, such as lidar.

Metawave is delivering a new kind of automotive radar, one that pushes the complexity to analog. WARLORD integrates the newly announced phase controller, plus one antenna with meta-structures to shape and steer the beam, and recognizes objects quickly in the analog space. All of Metawave’s offerings leverage AI to detect and classify objects, and continue to ‘learn’ as the radar sees moving and sedentary objects (other autos, pedestrians, bicyclists, lamp posts, bridge guards, etc.).

The company’s advanced, intelligent radar will play a significant role in achieving higher safety standards in the automotive and transportation industries, especially in inclement weather including dense fog and heavy storms, which cameras and LiDAR are not able to do. WARLORD’s high-resolution allows for detection and classification of objections at 300-350 meters through Metawave’s proprietary learning AI engines.

Featured News