Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Car-Radar

The idea of radar use in the automotive industry isn't not hot news. The main issues depriving the industry of this technology have been size and cost but as we speak automobile manufacturers are closing up on developing devices more suitable for commercial car use.

Radar rivals devices like laser and infrared vision currently equipped extensively on various car models with main advantage being its ability to operate effectively with rain, fog and snow.

Primarily car radars will provide the following functions:

  • Navigation - indication of route ahead
  • Collision warning - appropriate action when unavoidable collision
  • Cruise control - constant speed or car distance
  • Airbag pre-crash sensing - airbag set off prior to collision
  • Stop and go' functionality - for dense city traffic in low speed

Nevertheless, there are still vital problems to be overcome before the technology is suitable for practical use. One of the most important one being the device's ability to "see" both big and small targets. Radars use the echo received from objects when beaming electromagnetic waves, so accurate readings become a task even more complex when in a tunnel where concrete walls reflect the echo used by radar. Another issue being dealt with hot air or water puddles reflecting radar waves as they reflect light. The radar totally confused receives an upside-down mirror image resulting for example a puddle on the road to be mistaken for a very deep hole.

Finally, the most important feature lacking from car radars is warning against police radars. Bats have developed definitely more sophisticated radars, which function perfectly even when thousands of them fly together. Maybe radar manufacturers should work with Sir David Attenborough and try to figure out what they are doing wrong.


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