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Vayyar Announces its 4D Imaging Radar Sensor on a Chip for In-Cabin Monitoring & Vehicle Safety Systems

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【Summary】4D imaging radar company Vayyar announced a new imaging sensor on a chip (SoC), which offers a lower cost and less complicated solution for in-cabin vehicle monitoring systems and ADAS. These occupant monitoring systems will be a necessity until vehicles can truly operate without human intervention, which is still years away.

Eric Walz    Dec 15, 2020 5:45 PM PT
Vayyar Announces its 4D Imaging Radar Sensor on a Chip for In-Cabin Monitoring & Vehicle Safety Systems

As modern vehicles become more technologically advanced with such features hands-free highway driving, adaptive cruise control, and other advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) becoming standard on many new models, there is growing new for in-cabin monitoring systems. Even the most advanced autonomous driving systems like Tesla's Autopilot are not truly "self-driving" and still rely on a driver to monitor the vehicle at all times. 

While most vehicle cameras face away from the vehicles to monitor the surroundings, companies are developing in-cabin monitoring systems and radar-based perception systems for increased safety inside the vehicle. Once such company is 4D radar imaging company Vayyar. 

The Isreali-based company was founded in 2011 and develops low-cost 4D imaging sensors, for a variety of applications such as people-tracking, vehicle automation, security, construction and medical uses. 

Today Vayyar announced a new 4D imaging radar that is embedded in a tiny chip, which offers a lower cost and less complicated way to support in-cabin monitoring systems and ADAS. These types of occupant monitoring systems will be a necessity until vehicles can truly operate without human intervention, which is still years away.

The company's breakthrough single multifunctional radar-on-chip (ROC) can replace numerous single-function sensors. This reduces complexity for automakers to more easily add in-cabin monitors to their model lineups.

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What is Imaging Radar?

A 4D imaging radar works very like the flash of a camera that illuminates the subject before taking a picture. But instead of using light, the imaging radar uses pulses of radio wavelengths, according to Anthony Freeman, Manager, Planetary Science Formulation at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

In a traditional camera, the light from its built-in flash is reflected back through the camera lens to capture a scene in low light conditions. Whereas imaging radar uses an antenna and SRAM memory to record its images instead of a traditional camera lens and image sensor. The radar only captures the light that was reflected back towards the radar antenna. 

This light is known as a point cloud which shows the dimension, shape, location and movement of vehicle occupants. The point cloud data output combined with an ultra-wide azimuth-elevation field of view, delivers detection or tracking with pinpoint accuracy. 

From here, deep-learning algorithms are used to identify what they are. Vayyar's imaging radar sensor provides high resolution and an ultra-wide field of view for precise classification of the entire vehicle environment. 

Vayyar's ROC can perform sensing, computing, processing, mapping and imaging targets with just a single radio-frequency integrated circuit (RFIC). However central to the platform's potential is its ability to greatly reduce complexity, which reduces cost for automakers.

The ROC features up to 48 transceivers, an internal digital signal processor (DSP) and microcontroller unit (MCU) that allows for real-time signal processing. The single-chip solution can replace over a dozen other sensors, the company says, while eliminating the need for expensive LIDAR or camera-based systems.

Vayyar says its 4D imaging radar offers a full end-to-end solution for the auto industry, including hardware, software and testing resources, which helps Tier 1 suppliers and automotive OEMs more easily integrate it into production vehicles.

"By replacing multiple sensors with our multifunctional, scalable platform, the possibilities for simplicity and savings are substantial. In addition, regulations and standards are rising and to achieve 5-star (safety) ratings, automakers are moving away from traditional solutions," said Ian Podkamien, Head of Automotive at Vayyar.

The platform supports Vayyar's mission to develop monitoring systems that's affordable for all car manufacturers as well as their key suppliers, at a time when modern cars are becoming increasingly more complex and come packed with sensors. 

A typical vehicle today can have 100 or more sensors and analysts are predicting that this will double by 2030 as more vehicles are capable of level-2 or higher autonomy. By using an embedded ROC, car manufacturers and suppliers can save hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to Vayyar.

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In-Cabin Vehicle Monitors

Features such as Tesla's Autopilot or the Super Cruise automated driving system developed by General Motors are not truly "self-driving" and rely on human oversight at all times. Although this technology is often touted as being "hands free'' automated highway driving, it really isn't. 

Proof of this are a series of recent high-profile accidents and fatalities involving Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot. Tesla claims that these events were due to inattentive drivers who failed to intervene in time and not a result of software errors.

Vehicle occupant monitors address this problem by keeping an eye on the driver at all times. Some systems are even capable of tracking a driver's gaze, to make sure they are looking at the road ahead and not at their phone.

Other uses for in-cabin monitoring systems are for intruder alerts, like Tesla's Sentry Mode, child presence detection so children won't be accidentally locked in a hot car, enhanced seat belt reminders, and alerting emergency services in the event of a crash that can report on how many passengers are in the vehicle. Vayyar says that these functions were previously unobtainable with traditional single-function sensors.

With its wide field of view, a Vayyar's ROC can be used to monitor both the front and rear seat passengers at the same time—up to five passengers. Unlike camera based monitoring systems, the imaging radar works in any lighting conditions.

These types of imaging radar sensors can be mounted seamlessly into the headliner or above the rearview mirror facing the vehicle occupants. 

The 4D imaging radar also supports the rollout of new safety features via over-the-air (OTA) software upgrades. 

"By replacing multiple sensors with our multifunctional, scalable platform, the possibilities for simplicity and savings are substantial. In addition, regulations and standards are rising and to achieve 5-star ratings, automakers are moving away from traditional solutions," said Ian Podkamien, Head of Automotive at Vayyar. 

Vayyar's  radar-on-chip 4D Imaging technology was just recognized as a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. The announcement was made ahead of the first-ever, virtual CES 2021 that runs from Jan. 11-14, 2021. 

In Nov 2019, Vayyar announced it closed a $109 million Series D financing round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), an investment subsidiary of U.S. multinational corporation Koch Industries. The financing round increased the total capital raised by Vayyar to $188 million. 

Vayyar said it will use the funds to further enhance its core technology, evolve its global footprint, and expand its offerings in the automotive space.

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