STTR Phase I: Novel Radar Using 3D Printed Luneburg Lens for Autonomous Transportation

Period of Performance: 01/01/2017 - 12/31/2017

$225K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Tucson Microwave Innovations LLC
4991 N. Fort Verde Trl.
Tucson, AZ 85750
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Arizona
888 N Euclid Ave
Tucson, AZ 85721
Institution POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is significant. The research results will address the resolution and detection speed requirements of autonomous driving in complex environments such as urban scenarios. The next major revolution of transportation is undoubtedly autonomous driving which will bring great potential benefits in terms of safety, mobility and related productivity. With the proposed advanced sensing system and intelligent algorithms, it is expected that future autonomous driving vehicle could eliminate mistakes due to human error which is the main cause of traffic accidents. Moreover, it may lead to reduced traffic jam, higher energy efficiency and much enhanced mobility for the aging and disabled population. The proposed effort will also have great commercial impact. In 2015, the global market size of automotive millimeter wave (30 ? 300 GHz) radars hit about $1.936 billion; it is expected to reach $2.46 billion in 2016 and $5.12 billion in 2020, having the most remarkable growth potentials in the field of electronic products. In addition, the expected research outcome may lead to advancement in a number of important market sectors including wireless communication, sensing, mobile internet, assistive technology, and additive manufacturing. This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project attempts to realize a high performance automotive radar using 3D printed Luneburg Lens for autonomous driving. The existing automotive radar products do not have enough angular coverage and resolution for classifying and locating dense targets, which is critical for achieving autonomous driving. As a result, the current autonomous driving tests utilize LiDAR systems which are expensive and less reliable than radar especially under certain conditions such as heavy rain, snow, fog, smoke and sandstorms. Compared to conventional manufacturing techniques, this project utilizes 3D printing technique, which is much more convenient, fast, inexpensive and capable of implementing millimeter wave Luneburg lenses. Based on the Luneburg lens?s ability to form multiple beams with high gain and broadband behavior, novel automotive radar will be designed by mounting radar detectors around the lens. Moreover, with wide bandwidth and natural beam forming capabilities of Luneburg lens, an adaptive sensing approach is proposed to improve the scanning efficiency and avoid interference from nearby or intruder radar systems. With these proposed approaches, the objective is to achieve a high performance and low cost millimeter-wave sensing system which will be suitable for autonomous transportation applications.