First 4D Imaging Radar for Autonomous Driving to Deploy in 2021

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Xilinx FPGA platform powers Continental's 4D imaging radar sensors, which are scheduled to be deployed in passenger vehicles in 2021...

Continental announced it is using Xilinx FPGAs to deploy the automotive industry’s first production-ready 4D imaging radar, expected to ship in passenger vehicles in 2021. Continental’s new advanced radar sensor (ARS) 540 will use the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC platform, enabling vehicles equipped with the sensor to realize SAE J3016 Level 2 functionalities, paving the way toward eventual Level 5 autonomous driving systems. 4D imaging radar determines an object’s location in range, azimuth, elevation, and relative speed to provide detailed information about the driving environment. Earlier automotive radar systems capture only speed and azimuth.
4D imaging radar
The various scenarios where radar comes in useful in automated driving (Image: Xilinx)
Continental’s ARS540 is a long-range 4D imaging radar with high resolution and 300-meter range. Its  ±60° field-of-view enables multi-hypothesis tracking for prediction while driving, which is critical for managing complex driving scenarios, such as the detection of a traffic jam under a bridge. In addition, the ARS540 system’s high horizontal and vertical resolution enables detection of potentially hazardous objects on the road and responds appropriately. By supporting SAE Level 2 where the human driver is responsible for supervising vehicle control, and extending to fully autonomous Level 5, the ARS540 showcases the scalable usage of the sensor.
Willard Tu
Speaking to EE Times, Willard Tu, senior director of automotive at Xilinx, said, “Even though radar technology is considered mature, there is still room for innovation. Sensors currently available operate to 100- to 150 meters, and the industry is pressing for 300 meters. Lidar technology is evolving rapidly with multiple approaches, while with cameras the resolution required for 300 meters could jump from just one megapixel to eight megapixels, which would create huge performance demands. On the other hand, 4D imaging radar can achieve the 300-meter range and take true height measurements as opposed to inferring heights. The major benefit of radar over lidar is that it is more mature and lower cost.” We asked about some of the other 4D imaging radar solutions that have been announced by various startups. He responded that these are often still at proof-of-concept phase, and that no other 4D imaging radar solution is actually production-ready in a passenger vehicle.
[caption id="attachment_1348878" align="alignleft" width="300"]Xilinx and Continental 4D imaging radar The adaptable Xilinx platform enables Continental’s 4D imaging radar to be agnostic to multiple sensor-platform configurations. (Image: Xilinx)[/caption]
The Xilinx automotive (XA) Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC is an adaptable platform allowing Continental’s 4D imaging radar to be agnostic to multiple sensor-platform configurations and adapt to OEM specification. Parallel processing within the device’s programmable logic enables the fully independent, simultaneous processing pipelines that are critical to the ARS540’s 4D sensing. The many digital signal processing (DSP) slices enable hardware acceleration of real-time radar sensor inputs. The FPGA platform is the same as that used by Subaru in its Eyesight stereo vision-based advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) in its new Levorg vehicle. Cédric Malaquin, technology & market analyst, RF devices & technology at Yole Développement (Yole), commented, “4D imaging radar provides greater range, field of view, and perception and is a critical sensor enabling Level 2 to Level 5 developers to deliver systems that help create a safer driving environment. We expect 4D imaging radar to take place in luxury cars and robotaxis at first, leading to over US$550 million, a rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 124% between 2020 and 2025. Xilinx and Continental, two innovative market leaders have an excellent opportunity by teaming up to develop this new sensing modality.” The head of program management for radar at Continental, Norbert Hammerschmidt, said, “The Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC platform delivers the high performance and advanced DSP capabilities we needed to realize the ARS540, combined with adaptability and a market-leading selection of network interfaces capable of handling the wide array of antenna data at extremely high aggregate transfer rates. Continental recently won designs with leading European and US OEMs and is in ongoing discussions with additional OEMs worldwide regarding the ARS540. We are very proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Xilinx and to now provide the market with a technology that has the potential to save lives.” Tu from Xilinx added, “We are extremely pleased to be powering the industry’s first production-ready 4D imaging radar. The sophisticated features in Continental’s ARS540 accelerate the wider adoption of autonomous driving by bringing this advanced technology into passenger-owned vehicles.”

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