Enabling the highest performance front-end radar to help bring Vision Zero into reality

Other Parts Discussed in Post: AWR2243, AWR2243BOOST

For the last several years, two powerful forces have driven the use of active safety measures in advanced driver assistance systems (ADASs): The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) 2025’s Pursuit of Vision Zero traffic safety project and consumer five-star safety ratings.

Pursuit of Vision Zero will challenge vehicle manufacturers to offer the best possible technology as standard in all segments and countries, not only helping protect car occupants, but also increasingly addressing the safety of vulnerable road users. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have put a high focus on their safety rating test scores, since these scores can have a direct impact on how attractive and successful consumers find a particular vehicle model.

Thus, primary safety measures such as automatic emergency breaking (AEB), autonomous emergency steering (AES), automatic cruise control (ACC) and forward collision warning (FCW) have an increasingly important role to play. As the rate of development in ADASs accelerates, car safety ratings are already including more and more ADAS and crash avoidance technologies.

The performance of safety measures such as AEB, AES, ACC and FCW systems depends on the type and complexity of sensors used. OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers are paying very close attention to the sensor suite they choose for these functions, specifically ensuring that radar sensors meet the stringent requirements NCAP tests require.

TI is expanding its rich radar portfolio with the AWR2243, a second-generation front radar TI millimeter-wave (mmWave) sensor. With the aim of getting closer to achieving Vision Zero priorities, a design that includes the AWR2243 can help your ADAS design:

  • Sense up to 220 m from the vehicle, with superior output power (13 dBm), noise figure (12 dB) and phase noise (-97 dBc/Hz).
  • Differentiate between close-by large and small targets with a higher dynamic range of phase noise performance.
  • Use more than 2,000 flexible, autonomously pre-programmed chirp modulations to deliver advanced features such as beam steering and Doppler division multiple access (DDMA).
  • Scale R&D efforts across the entire vehicle by using the AWR2243’s behind-the-bumper performance and multichip cascading capabilities, in addition to the front radar design.

Automotive Front Radar Using the AWR2243 TI mmWave Sensor.

Let’s dive deeper into a few areas where the new NCAP safety rating tests are more demanding, consequently requiring front radar sensor performance enhancements. The AWR2243’s superior radio frequency (RF) performance and rich feature set can make it easier for automakers to achieve the desired five-star safety rating. To evaluate the performance of these features, you can use the AWR2243BOOST evaluation module, seen below in Figure 1.

Figure 1: AWR2243BOOST EVM

Head-on collision avoidance

A vehicle’s AEB system assesses opportunities for head-on collision and helps prevent accidents involving other road users by engaging braking and steering systems. A study done by the American Automobile Association (AAA) also shows that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has an 18% risk of severe injury or death. Increase the vehicle’s speed by just 10 mph, to 30 mph, and the risk more than doubles to 47%. The link budget of the AWR2243, with its 13-dBm output power and 12-dB noise figure, gives automakers the ability to design front-end systems that can identify vulnerable road users at over 220 m away, while maintaining a wide field of view (FoV).

Crossing and turning maneuvers

Crossing and turning maneuvers that occur at junctions create opportunities for impact with other drivers or pedestrians due to lack of visibility, driver inattentiveness or driver failure to observe oncoming traffic when turning. The AWR2243’s ability to steer the beam with 5.6-degree resolution phase shifters enables the radar to survey the road, identify the imminent risk and activate the AEB function where needed. These high-resolution phase shifters facilitate complex chirp modulations such as DDMA multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), which provides simultaneously good angular resolution and a higher signal-to-noise-ratio than time-division multiplexing MIMO.

Night travel

Studies show that the effectiveness of AEB systems drops significantly during night travel, where visibility is limited. For example, the AAA tests show that at night, none of the AEB systems tested were able to detect or react to adult pedestrians. A sensor fusion between a camera and radar sensor can help compensate for the camera’s lessened night visibility.

Figure 2: TI mmWave cascade imaging radar RF EVM

Cascading multiple AWR2243 sensors, as seen in Figure 2, provides a wider FoV, an extended range and enhanced angle resolution to detect static objects. Imaging radar systems using cascaded sensors can help enable cars to “see” the world in four dimensions (range, velocity, azimuth and elevation) and significantly increase AEB and AES system effectiveness. Advanced and autonomous built-in monitoring capabilities, including rich interference detection and mitigation, can also aid automakers in achieving functional safety certified systems.

Conclusion

The AWR2243, which is drop-in compatible to the first-generation AWR1243, is a significant addition to a rich TI mmWave sensor portfolio – maintaining the RF compatibility and mmWave link application programming interface instructions of the first generation – enables smooth migration between different devices in the portfolio. The AWR2243’s high RF performance and rich feature set can help handle challenging Euro NCAP standards for front radar applications.

Both the single-chip AWR2243 second-generation 76-GHz to 81-GHz high-performance automotive MMIC evaluation module and mmWave cascade imaging radar RF evaluation module are currently available to support a fast design start into the fascinating world of the front radar sensor.

Additional resources

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