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Commercialisation of 94GHz Phase Shifting Radar (PSR94)

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PSR94 (Commercialisation of 94GHz Phase Shifting Radar (PSR94))

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2017-09-30

The PSR94 is a 94GHz Phase Shifting Radar front end which has been commercialised with the purpose of targeting millimetre wave radar systems manufacturers in the aerospace sector with potential use in other sectors such as the automotive industry. .
The PSR94 RF front end includes an electronically scanning antenna with no moving parts and in addition to this it has many other commercial and technical benefits over existing mechanically scanning (moving parts) antennae, namely; it is much smaller, has a wider scanning angle, is much cheaper to manufacture, has low power consumption and is very easy to control.
On completion of the project the product has been brought to TRL level 8, that is system complete and qualified. The result is a completely electronically steerable radar front end which has far surpassed expectations and when compared to the existing mechanical systems, it can be seen to be far superior in both functionality, usability, form factor and price. The system can be manufactured in high volume and fully integrate with customers’ existing systems.
Space debris is an increasing problem which causes significant damage to expensive satellite payloads. Space exploration, earth observation, unmanned landing and interstellar rendezvous have proven to be costly and error prone due to radar in-accuracy.
In commercial aviation, helicopter “brownout” (landing in degraded visual environments) has been the cause of many crashes.
In communications, there is a constant industry led requirement for higher data rates across mobile networks. In the communications industry, the transmission properties at 94GHz ensures very high data rates are achievable (research carried out by University of Stuttgart predicts data rates of 15 Gbit/s) far in excess of current 4G data rates.
For space and aircraft radar systems, the PSR94, using a physically small and light radar front end, takes an extremely complex and difficult method of antenna scanning and allows the manufacturer to produce a very high resolution image that is extremely reliable and accurate for the user to utilise.
Within 5 to 10 years large car manufacturers such as Ford, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daimler and Nissan all predict autonomous vehicles will be available on the market. The PSR 94 will be an enabling technology within this sector, with its small form factor and high level of accuracy.
In an effort to ensure Arralis was market ready activities including a dissemination and exploitation strategy for the company was created. This allowed the mapping of tasks to fully exploit the results of the PSR 94 project. The dissemination strategy ensures all relevant stakeholders are kept informed of progress within the project. This strategy fed into a marketing roadmap for the company which coordinates the efforts of all participants ensuring all data disseminated is uniform. This was also vital in steering the company’s marketing strategy for the project and beyond with extensive research in market size, target segments and pricing structure. Actions included press releases, customer meetings and exhibitions which formed part of the communication tools used to engage with the audience made up of scientific community, industry members and customers.
Customer market readiness was also one of the key tasks performed during the course of the project. A full market analysis report was developed along with the production of a live sales pipeline. This was the product of face to face meetings, sales presentations and product technical meetings with customers in some of our most important markets. The outcome has led to interest generated among a number of leading aerospace and automotive companies.
During product optimisation the manufacturability analysis lead to a change in method due to scalability issues. This led to a change in approach from a development perspective. The technology which arose from the commercialisation process was both unique and patentable and so added further value to the project on a wider scale. Each of the components of the system were optimised in both function and manufacture in order to make the product ready for market deployment. The conclusion was the ability to produce the PSR 94 on a commercial market and meet the market demand. The end result of the project was the delivery of a fully operational, technically optimised and commercially viable PSR 94 which is now ready for mass manufacture.
The PSR 94 is the only 2- axis electronically continuous scanning antenna at 94GHz which exists in the world today. All forms of 2- axis scanning at such high frequencies, i.e. above 80GHz, require some aspect of mechanical scanning where the antenna physically moves. The PSR94 is solid state in nature, no movement is involved, which increases the reliability of the overall system for the end user. It is seldom applied at 94GHz as we are doing and the original was a low frequency coaxial design.
The phase shifting approach is a unique Rotman lens method that has the added advantage of being patentable. This design has been uniquely applied to 94GHz for which the Rotman lens, at the time, was not perceived as feasible.
The result is a 94GHz flat beam steering radar front end which has the potential to make a major impact on both the aerospace and automotive markets.
94GHz Integrated Radar Front End