Taiwan designs low-cost collision avoidance radar system


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Vehicle owners who are worried that a US$800 collision avoidance sensor will cut too deeply into their pockets will soon be able to purchase a Taiwan-designed radar sensor for well below US$100.

A Taiwan University research team has designed a 77 GHz “collision avoidance radar system” that detects the distance and speed of vehicles in front of the automobile in which it is installed.

Lee Chih-yi, a professor of electronic engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU), said at a press conference yesterday that his team’s technological breakthrough lies in the lower cost of the system, which will also be much smaller in size than those already on the market.

He said that, unlike the image-capture radar systems on the market, his team’s device uses electromagnetic waves to determine the level of danger posed by other vehicles close by.

In addition, the accuracy of image-based radar is usually affected by fog and rain, but this is not the case with electromagnetic waves, Lee said.

Based on speed, distance and other data obtained via the monitoring sensor, the electromagnetic radar will alert the driver if his vehicle is too close to others, he said.

The 77GHz radar sensor can detect moving vehicles 100-150 meters away, at an angle of between 3 and 5 degrees, or about the length of a traffic block, according to Lee.

To monitor cars within a shorter range, the detection angle can be adjusted to between 40 and 50 degrees, he said.

Because the radar system is not expensive, people can install two or more in their vehicles to monitor the lanes on the right and the left, the professor said.

He said most collision avoiding radar systems cost between US$700 and US$800 and are usually installed only in luxury sedans.

“Our radar costs much less, is smaller and uses less energy, so it can be installed in all sorts of cars, big or small,” he said.

Lee said his team has published a paper on the radar chip and is now applying for a patent, having completed assembly of the collision avoidance radar system.

He said he believes that given its low cost and potential for wider use, the electromagnetic radar will become very popular among drivers.

The paper was one of 14 from Taiwan selected for presentation at the 2011 International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) scheduled for February next year in San Francisco. A total of 211 papers will be discussed at the conference.

Wednesday’s press conference was hosted by the International Solid-State Circuits Society’s Taiwan branch to share Taiwan’s research achievements with the media.