Video-equipped radar sensor takes going in reverse a step forward

Jan. 1, 2004
BY INTEGRATING a video link with its anti-collision radar technology, United Kingdom firm Cambridge Consultants claims to have created a new platform

BY INTEGRATING a video link with its anti-collision radar technology, United Kingdom firm Cambridge Consultants claims to have created a “new platform for building next-generation automobile safety aids.”

In a Cambridge Consultants Limited (CCL) demonstration vehicle, for example, a video-equipped radar reversing sensor provides accurate and clear collision and safety warnings over a 180° monitoring zone five meters deep. It is ideal for large commercial and industrial vehicles.

The CCL-Softcar radar reversing aid and video combination offers major advantages compared with the video link installed in some vehicles.

Conventional cab video struggles to present an undistorted picture. It is hard for a driver to determine where and what objects are — especially when contrast is poor.

Radar sensing overcomes this drawback, providing accurate detection of obstacle distance and trajectory. With CCL-Softcar, the camera augments the radar by automatically directing the driver's attention toward the most dangerous obstacle.

The feedback provides the driver with both an accurate audiovisual warning from the radar and an overlaid video image flagging the danger point that could be the nearest object, the fastest-moving object, the nearest pedestrian, or some prioritized sequence of dangers.

By processing radar data using an “object classification” algorithm, the system can provide “intelligent” alerts.

Although radar can determine what obstacles are closest or threaten the earliest impact, the camera system is better able to distinguish a pedestrian from a lamp-post. The system's ability to determine and track/predict obstacle trajectory adds a further dimension to anti-collision capabilities.

CCL-Softcar is based on low-frequency radar technology that lowers the cost of components required to build a system compared with alternative approaches. This gives it the potential to make sophisticated anti-collision safety aids an affordable accessory for the mass market, and the new video enhancement also supports this focus on economy.

The video system is used to process images of that part of the view containing the most dangerous obstacle, reducing the computing required, and allowing the computer part of the safety system to be implemented using a digital signal processing chip priced in dollars, rather than hundreds of dollars.

CCL-Softcar is a pulsed radar system working in the 5.8-GHz band, rather than the 24- or 77-GHz bands used in alternative anti-collision radar approaches.

Four radar modules and one electronic control unit (ECU) can provide 360° of protection for a vehicle, compared with alternative approaches that can require two or more modules to be installed on the sides and rear of a vehicle.

For more information, phone +44-1223-420024; fax +44-1223-423373; e-mail [email protected]; visit; or contact CCL, Science Park, Milton Rd, Cambridge, United Kingdom, CB4 4DW.