Uhnder digital radar advances automotive ADAS, uses Micron memory

Micron Technology | December 2021

Driving more intelligence at the edge

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous technologies are providing cars with sensing capabilities that exceed human abilities, such as identifying unseen objects and triggering automatic emergency braking (AEB) potentially faster than a human driver can. These capabilities depend on perception systems made up of cameras, radar and lidar that capture and track important environmental data around the vehicle.

Radar can perceive beyond human visual capabilities. It can sense range and velocity, and it can do so through rain, snow and fog, conditions under which human eyes, cameras and lidar are far more limited. However, traditional radar is based on analog technology and has systemic weaknesses with regard to image resolution and signal interference. Micron customer Uhnder believes its digital radar, which resolves these shortcomings, is the answer for next-generation ADAS and an autonomous future. Together with a leading tier 1 automotive technology company, Uhnder has developed the world’s first commercially available automotive digital radar scheduled to debut on roadways in 2022.

Uhnder expands radar’s capabilities

Uhnder claims it is the first company to offer digital automotive imaging radar-on-chip (RoC). It uses digital code modulation (DCM) instead of the analog frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) architecture traditionally used in automotive radar. According to the company, this breakthrough architecture enables up to 16 times better angular resolution than analog radar. In a DCM architecture, every transmitter is identified by one of a quintillion (1018) unique codes to minimize interference, and the high-contrast resolution (HCR) allows digital radar to better distinguish between objects located next to one another.

“To improve the capability and reliability of ADAS in current cars, as well as overcome the challenges to advance to fully automated driving (L4/L5), automotive radar systems need to provide a much higher resolution in azimuth and elevation, as well as better accuracy and discrimination,” notes Max Liberman, Uhnder VP of Chips. “With digital radar, we can identify a pedestrian crossing the road after a turn at an intersection, a child crossing the road from behind a parked car, a stalled car at the entrance of a tunnel or under a bridge, and a bicyclist beside a car or guardrail. Analog radar cannot accurately and reliably do that.”

As resolution and frame rates increase, so does the amount of data that must be processed and acted on in near real time. These actions require performant processing engines supported by high-bandwidth memory solutions.

Uhnder CTO and co-founder Curtis Davis says, “The data generated is up to 32 GB/s, basically like a Blu-ray every second. The amount of data that needs to be transferred and pulled back into the chip is enormous.” Equally staggering is the amount of data six digital radars can generate — 20 petabytes a day per Uhnder’s estimates.

Micron memory and storage can address new technologies like digital radar

While lower levels of ADAS require performant memory, more advanced levels — including integrating digital radar — demand even greater performance. Taking radar from 24 GHz up to between 76 and 81 GHz and from analog to digital drives system requirements through the roof. Consistent with other intelligent edge sensing applications, the need for a rapid answer requires that data be processed directly at the radar sensor before it is sent to other systems.

“Memory bandwidth drives performance, resolution and accuracy for radar,” Davis explains. “Micron's memory technology and solutions provide the bandwidth needed to deliver our high-resolution digital radar perception sensors for next-generation mobility applications.”

Davis estimates that Uhnder’s next-generation radar will require even more bandwidth. Micron’s automotive-grade LPDDR5X delivers the requisite bandwidth needed to fuel the next generation of digital radar systems. In addition, Micron’s automotive LPDDR5X is fully JEDEC-compliant and auto-qualified (AEC-Q100, IATF 16949 with Production Part Approval Process [PPAP] support).

“At Micron, we have a leading portfolio of automotive-qualified memory and storage solutions,” said Chris Jacobs, VP of Marketing for Micron’s Embedded Business Unit. “These products are ideally suited for Uhnder’s digital radar solutions and other safety-critical ADAS applications.”

As automotive data proliferates as a result of advances like digital radar, the in-vehicle memory and storage infrastructure is all the more critical. Because memory is one of the key components in its system, Uhnder chose a cutting-edge technology and proven partner to fuel its innovation.

For 30 years, Micron has been a leader in delivering the automotive memory and storage solutions that are facilitating technical innovations and transformations across the industry. Micron’s continuous investment in automotive solutions and comprehensive automotive portfolio solidify the company’s role as a trusted advisor across the entire global ecosystem — now and for the next 30 years.

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