Startup’s automotive radar sees people in the dark

Writen by Junko Yoshida for the Ojo & Yoshida Report – Uhnder looks to improve safety of ADAS systems with a one-chip digital radar device.

What’s at stake?

Not all advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are created equal. Automatic emergency braking, particularly, is known to hit pedestrians and cyclists at night. A Texas startup thinks its new radar is the answer.

In the absence of robocars on the consumer market, carmakers view active driving-assist systems such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) as the next best option for jacking up the sticker price in the name of safety.

Unfortunately, these automated features don’t work faultlessly all the time in all conditions. To make matters worse, regulators and car-rating programs today are testing these features only under conditions that tend to favor carmakers, not in the everyday scenarios in which consumers drive.

Case in point is the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). United States and European NCAP programs have both, so far, avoided testing vehicles with AEB at night, despite “statistics [that] show a 90 percent increase in fatalities at night,” said Manju Hegde, CEO and co-founder at Uhnder, in a recent interview with the Ojo-Yoshida Report. “As a radar guy, I’m particularly incensed because radar is the one that’s really good at night,” he said.

Against this backdrop, Uhnder, an Austin, Texas radar startup founded in 2015, has released its first digital radar-on-chip, called S80, automotive qualified and with ISO26262 ASIL-B rating certified by TÜV SÜD.

Hegde’s comments could be seen as self-serving, but the real-world stats are on his side.

2020 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that 72 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the United States occurred at night.

In a report issued earlier this year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) noted that AEB systems “that can detect pedestrians are preventing pedestrian crashes — but only in the daytime or on well-lit roads.”

Similarly, AAA which has been evaluating active driving-assistance (ADA) systems since 2018, issued a report last month cautioning consumers:

Currently available ADA systems are not capable of sustained vehicle operation without constant driver supervision; it is imperative the driver maintain situational awareness at all times.

The message to consumers is clear: ADA isn’t as advanced or as automated as you are led to believe.

Time to question L2 vehicle safety
During the interview, Hegde said, “You recently wrote a story about Level 3 vehicles, entitled ‘L3 Cars: Unsafe at Any Speed?’ You’re spot on with your thoughts on L3.  But the problem isn’t just about L3. It is also happening in L2.”… Full article