Radar shows cars around the corner

A newly developed radar system should allow autonomous vehicles to look around the corner. This allows vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to be noticed in good time.

An American-German research team has developed a new radar system that allows vehicles to see around the corner. This should allow, for example, self-driving cars to notice pedestrians and cyclists at an intersection before they actually come into view. “The radar sensors are relatively inexpensive, especially in comparison to Lidar, and scale for mass production,” emphasizes Felix Heide, computer science professor at the Princeton University. The system could therefore find its way into series vehicles relatively soon.

Dangers instead of speed

In principle, the system uses normal radar sensors, such as those used in speed cameras. However, the direct image is not important, as in the detection of razors. Instead, the approach uses signals that would be rejected as noise in other applications, namely radio waves that were reflected by surfaces such as house walls or even parked cars. These can ultimately fall onto a sensor on objects behind a corner and again via the wall.

In order to see around the corner with these actually weak signals of low resolution, specially developed algorithms are used that process the data with AI methods. «First we have to see if there is anything there. If there is anything, is it important? Is it a cyclist or a pedestrian? Then we have to localize it, ”says Fangyin Wei, a PhD student in Princeton. The system takes advantage of the fact that the Doppler effect occurs when radio waves are reflected from moving objects.