Metawave , a provider of advanced radar sensing and perception technologies, announced that it has been awarded a $1.7M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the U.S. Army. Pursuant to the contract, Metawave will enhance its defense application-proven Carson™ radar technology platform to support off-road perception sensing and other advancements for autonomous ground vehicles and systems. The resulting Hudson™ technology platform utilizes Metawave’s unique long-range and all-weather detection, tracking, and perception capabilities enabled by its patented phased array beamforming and steering front-end Marconi™ chips, highly integrated Antenna-in-Package (AiP) modules, and proven high-resolution and accurate radar algorithms. The new Hudson radar platform will also incorporate enhanced processing units (GPUs) from NVIDIA, the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) computing. The contract also includes an option for a Phase III follow-on contract, which would allow for the further development and deployment of the solution.
Software – A Critical Component
In addition to the Hudson radar platform, Metawave will also develop Anthem™ — a proprietary Recursive Neural Network Machine Learning (ML) software platform comprising lidar, camera, and fusion stacks to support advanced sensing and perception radar platforms. Integral to the Hudson platform, Anthem will expand the capabilities of Aware (the industry standard collaboration intelligence platform that identifies and reduces risk, strengthens security and compliance) to include wider sets of classification libraries and Regions of Interest (RoI) identification. Anthem is trainable over time to support various off-road terrain operations and new scenarios such as the need to differentiate between real and negative obstacles, dense and thin shrubs, trees, rocks etc., allowing vehicles to operate more safely in unknown environments.
“We are thrilled to have been selected by the U.S. Army for this important contract,” said Dr. Maha Achour, founder and CEO at Metawave. “The power of phased array radar is well-known to the defense sector, but rapid innovation and advancements in millimeter, semiconductor-enabled radar solutions for safe, driverless automotive technologies have become increasingly attractive for mission-critical military operations.”
“Autonomous defense applications require the highest level of precision enabled by Metawave’s unique chips, modules, and radar algorithms which have proven to be a valuable asset in the automotive industry,” said Dr. Stephen Aubin, defense industry expert and member of Metawave’s board of directors. ”This is a great opportunity for Metawave to take radar technologies to the next level with the Hudson and Anthem solution which could easily support other Department of Defense requirements such as aerial and marine autonomous operations.”
The Hudson Radar Platform – Requirements, Technical Details and Competing Solutions
Through the SBIR Phase II contract, Metawave will be working to address the U.S. Army’s four challenge areas in perception sensing for autonomous ground systems: off-road sensing, adverse weather sensing, long range sensing, and reduction of processing burden for ground vehicles.
Metawave’s Hudson architecture addresses these requirements with the use of Doppler Division Multiple Access (DDMA) advanced waveforms enabled by Marconi chips to provide fast frame rates over wide field-of-view (FoV) in both azimuth and elevation directions at ranges up to 500 meters. By combining DDMA with AiP analog beamsteering capabilities, less processing is needed to deliver real-time high signal power perception sensing and accuracy in challenging environments. The benefit is faster response time and more robust performance in complex operating conditions.
Competing radars solutions operate in either high-resolution or long-range beamforming modes but never in a simultaneous long-range beamforming and high-resolution mode as in the case of Metawave’s Carson and Hudson radar platforms. Metawave has developed a way to combine analog beamforming and digital MIMO into a hybrid scalable radar architecture and software stack that solves the challenges of long-range, high-resolution imaging radar with the lowest size, cost, and weight. Competing all-digital radar products have reduced performance at ranges beyond 150m and face high processing burdens in dense or cluttered environments or in the presence of a high number of moving objects. The Metawave approach overcomes these challenges because the Marconi analog beamformer chip shapes and scans a narrow fan beam along one axis and scans a much wider field of view using Digital MIMO along the other axis. This approach also mitigates interference and eliminates ghost images with its low side lobe-level calibration. Metawave has over 300 filed patent applications with 64 issued and allowed to date related to various aspects of sensing, fusion, perception, and connectivity.