Metawave Corp has developed the automotive industry’s first 76-81 GHz beamformer chip that operates at at 77 GHz. Initial alpha samples and evaluation boards have been delivered to MIRISE Technologies, the joint venture between DENSO and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). MIRISE was launched last year to focus on next-generation in-vehicle semiconductors, and from its inception, has worked closely with the Metawave team to evaluate the beamformer chip and the beam steering radar.
In 2020, Metawave successfully demonstrated the industry’s first, award-winning, SPEKTRA analog beam steering radar using its initial discrete phase-shifter components. SPEKTRA radar delivers the most accurate and intelligent automotive radar available today, which can clearly and consistently detect vehicles beyond 300 meters and pedestrians beyond 200 meters with the highest angular resolution and accuracies at these long ranges. Metawave is the only automotive radar company to demonstrate a calibrated phased array and front-end solution that enables analog beamforming signals using a single, conventional Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar chip developed by Texas Instruments (TI). Metawave has filed for more than 250 patents with 20 issued and allowed to date.
At the heart of SPEKTRA radar is Metawave’s MARCONI beamformer chip for multi-channel operation at 77 GHz, which, when used with Metawave’s proprietary calibration system, enables steering of transmitting and receive beams in precise steps and over a targeted field-of-view range. The MARCONI antenna in package’s (AiP’s) ability to steer a focused, high-gain beam while running advanced Virtual MIMO Array algorithms gives SPEKTRA radar-based platforms an edge over conventional, purely digital radars. Also referred to as “radar on a chip,” conventional radars use wider, lower gain beams and fundamentally cannot achieve the same effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) and range performance as SPEKTRA. The AiP module follows a recent trend in commercial mmWave products, especially in the wireless cellular market, to assemble and package the Marconi chips with the AiP– therefore, creating a higher level of integration and increasing performance due to fully calibrated modular building blocks that can be configured with the antenna array(s) for driving virtual MIMO array algorithms. These building blocks can be used in various geometries and topologies to develop application-specific radar modules for multi-functional uses.
The high-performance radar front end that enables the SPEKTRA radar is an innovation within the TI mmWave sensor portfolio.
“Automakers can now steer long-range radar with higher precision to enable driver assistance features and help make driving safer, even on busy streets and other road conditions that challenge existing systems,” said Sneha Narnakaje, manager for automotive radar sensors at TI. “The fully calibrated MARCONI analog beamformer chip combined with the TI mmWave radar front end, AWR2243, can deliver higher angular resolution at longer ranges. The SPEKTRA radar platform leverages the advanced frame and chirp configuration and built-in circuitry for phase coherency of the AWR2243.”
In early 2021, Metawave also demonstrated its proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) AWARE platform that enables SPEKTRA radars to perform real-time object classification and labeling for more efficient and faster Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) processing with over 94% labeling accuracy. Because of its machine-learning sensor fusion, the AWARE platform enables SPEKTRA radar to deliver accuracy in storms, darkness, and dense fog, even as vehicles travel at highway speeds. SPEKTRA radar’s ability to detect and classify objects beyond 300 meters is due to its unique ability to focus its beams along a specific field of view (FoV) direction to reach faster frame rates when combined with virtual MIMO array techniques in the back-end. Traditional radars use four or more transceiver chips for digital beamforming or they ‘flash’ a wide FoV, limiting the range and preventing the radar’s ability to accurately distinguish between objects that are close in proximity. Metawave’s SPEKTRA radar and AWARE platform videos can be viewed on the company’s YouTube channel.
“By successfully delivering its first automotive radar multi-channel beamformer chip to MIRISE, Metawave has proven its considerable capabilities at the core analog chip level,” said Tony Cannestra, the Director of Corporate Ventures for DENSO. “We are excited to continue to support Metawave and other startups working on advanced technologies to make automotive transportation safer and more comfortable for the world.”
“RADAR-based technologies play a critical role in ADAS, enabling features such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot detection, collision warnings, and more while paving the way for fully autonomous driving,” said Kamal Khouri, vice president and general manager of Automotive at GlobalFoundries (GF). “GF has built a portfolio of solutions, silicon-verified IP and reference designs, that enable companies such as Metawave to design innovative and disruptive radar solutions such as the Gen1 Marconi Beamformer chip that is based on our 8XP Auto Grade 1 technology.”
Since its 2020 CES demo, its first SPEKTRA radar platform has been successfully demonstrated by car, truck, and even train OEMs. Engaging with these industry leaders to participate in the SPEKTRA radar’s proof-of-concept evaluation program, even during the COVID pandemic, allowed leaders in ground mobility to affordably test the next-generation radar for highly automated and autonomous driving while having access to Metawave experts and its state-of-the-art labs. By offering the flexibility to extract raw data from the SPEKTRA radar sensor, customers can run their algorithms and seamlessly process radar data within their software stack.
“Despite the COVID pandemic and being a hardware and system company, Metawave’s incredible team continued to develop its core IC, antenna, calibration, radar system and algorithms, embedded software, and AI modules to meet milestones and protect its Intellectual Property.” Metawave CEO and founder, Maha Achour. “We’re excited to be the first to deliver the fully calibrated beam steering chip to leaders in the automotive industry paving the way for global market adoption of Metawave proprietary technologies.”
Radar is still considered a critical sensor for deploying highly automated and autonomous driving as radar provides long-range sensing at a high 55 dBm maximum transmit focused power for all-weather operation. According to Precedence Research, the automotive radar market size is projected to grow at a healthy CAGR of 11.4% to be worth $8.30 billion by 2027. Radar’s ability to provide accurate velocity information, under complicated driving conditions, makes it imperative for autonomous vehicle deployment and growth.
SPEKTRA radar provides automakers with the ability to deliver ADAS and safety features, including left-turn assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic-jam pilot, highway pilot, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, and other features.
Click here to learn more about the SPEKTRA radar platform.
Click here to learn more about MARCONI analog beamformer chip.