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Achieving interference-free autonomous driving

Radar interference is a major roadblock to the development of autonomous vehicles. To mitigate this risk, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology created GREENLOC, an innovative system that combines radar and communication systems.

Transport and Mobility

The autonomous vehicles of the future will rely on a variety of sensors, including radars. In fact, radar’s ability to provide robust awareness even in rainy, foggy, snowy and poor lighting conditions makes it a key enabler for the development of autonomous cars. Unfortunately, radar is also susceptible to interference and jamming, both of which could compromise the safety of a vehicle and are thus major roadblocks to the commercialisation of fully autonomous vehicles. To help mitigate this risk, EU-funded researchers have developed GREENLOC, an innovative system that combines radar and communication systems. “The main goal of this project was to provide high-accuracy, fast and green localisation in intelligent transportation systems,” says Canan Aydogdu, the principal researcher who was granted an individual fellowship from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme to pursue her project idea in conjunction with the electrical engineering team at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. “The result represents a big step towards achieving interference-free autonomous driving.”

Combining radar with wireless communications

GREENLOC’s differentiator is its innovative combination of the power of radar with wireless communications. “Both radars and wireless communication systems are susceptible to interference, a problem that is solved in communication through coordination,” explains Henk Wymeersch, a professor of electrical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology and GREENLOC project coordinator. “We use the coordination capability of wireless communication to mitigate interference with the radars.” The GREENLOC system is comprised of a single hardware component capable of carrying out both the vehicle’s radar and wireless communication functions, along with an access control protocol. Whereas the radar provides high-sensitive localisation, when combined with the wireless technology, the system can also provide low latency communications with less spectrum, less hardware and less energy. According to Wymeersch, the GREENLOC system can solve the radar interference problem that threatens the safety of autonomous vehicles. For example, recent simulations demonstrated the system’s ability to provide high-localisation sensitivity up to 3 centimetres distance resolution and 0.5 m/s velocity resolution. The system also demonstrated a low latency of 80 m/s delay while also being spectrum- and hardware-efficient. “We are proud to have developed a greener way to connect and localise vehicles,” says Aydogdu. “And the system only requires a single piece of hardware for both radar and communications, which helps reduce energy consumption.”

Driving towards a safer future

Although the GREENLOC project is closed, work continues. For example, researchers are currently studying how adapting radar sensing to changing traffic conditions could enhance automotive security and efficiency. Much of this work is being done within the Vinnova Project, a Swedish-funded initiative that came out of the GREENLOC project and aims to further develop the GREENLOC system for marketisation. “Our research has prepared radar systems for the autonomous future,” adds Aydogdu. “By removing the interference problem and simultaneously creating a new communication system, GREENLOC is driving us towards this future.”

Keywords

GREENLOC, autonomous driving, radar interference, autonomous vehicles, autonomous cars, Chalmers University of Technology, communication systems, localisation, intelligent transportation systems, wireless communications

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