Radar Tech for Self-Driving Cars

The push to create a functional self-driving car has always been there – but the last decade has seen increased pressure. Drivers and manufacturers alike want to see the technology work.

Over the years, many different attempts have been made, with varying forms of technology backing the experiments. Until recently, the preferential sensor was LIDAR, but now RADAR is taking the industry by storm.

Given how dated the technology itself is, it might be hard to believe that RADAR is the new big technology on the self-driving platform. But this application is new – and it is giving manufacturers a reason to hope.

The Need for Self-Driving Cars

The past decade has brought about hundreds of different inventions to make driving safer – for everyone. Unfortunately, none of the current technology in place can counteract the distractable nature of the driver.

GHSA has compiled a list of statistics that proves pedestrian deaths via vehicle collisions have drastically increased during the pandemic. This is even though fewer people are driving than ever before. It is believed that many of these accidents were preventable. Following investigations, many drivers were found to be speeding, distracted, or under the influence.

In other words, the best way to create safe driving technology is by perfecting self-driving cars. 

LIDAR vs. RADAR

As mentioned before, up until recently, LIDAR was the preferred option for applied autonomy. LIDAR stands for Light Imaging Detection and Ranging, and it uses light pulses to map the surroundings.

Conversely, RADAR uses radio waves as a way of mapping surroundings. LIDAR had been preferred for its higher rate of accuracy. However, it has a few significant drawbacks. LIDAR isn’t as accurate during night hours, inclement weather, is expensive, and as early results have shown us: dealing with sudden obstacles on the road.

RADAR In Self-Driving Cars

RADAR first found its way into the automotive industry in the 1990s due to the variety of uses it provides. RADAR systems are tough, which is always a benefit for any automotive part, and they’re less expensive (compared to LIDAR).

The rising benefits of RADAR don’t stop there. RADAR systems can instantaneously measure the velocity of objects, which is critical for self-driving vehicles. Without this ability, it would be impossible to safely navigate a road full of other cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

RADAR also benefits from functioning during inclement weather and has less risk of damage should it be exposed to dirt. There is still a long way to go when it comes to creating the perfect self-driving vehicle, but RADAR is bringing us one step closer.