A drive-in movie for the vehicle radar

August 22, 2019

The sensors in autonomous vehicles must be extremely reliable in order to not endanger road users. In the past, these sensors were subjected to arduous road tests. The new ATRIUM testing device from Fraunhofer FHR means that, in the future, these tests will largely take place in the lab.

© Fraunhofer FHR
Single-channel version of the ATRIUM radar target simulator.
© Fraunhofer FHR
Illustration of the ATRIUM radar target simulator.

The car of tomorrow will drive itself. But even if there are already driving assistants that support humans, completely autonomous vehicles are not yet ready for series production. Questions of responsibility play an important role in the development process. To date, vehicle manufacturers have relied on road tests and comparative studies covering several million kilometers to test the reliability of sensors. If errors are detected, changes must be made and new road tests carried out.

Moving road tests to the lab

Laboratory tests reduce this complexity considerably. This type of laboratory test already exists for radar sensors: radar target sensors record the radar beams emitted by the vehicle radar and send an artificial echo back to the car. However, the radar target sensors currently available are not capable of adequately imaging natural environments. They produce a very reduced image with a single-digit number of reflections.

ATRIUM technology significantly more powerful

The Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR has now developed the more powerful radar target sensor ATRIUM (Automobile Test Environment for Radar In-the-loop Investigations and Measurements). Thanks to the optimized structure of the transmission channels, it can generate up to 300 reflections and thus simulate a far more realistic scene. “In the future, we will be able to run highly complex tests that will significantly reduce the time required for road testing,” summarizes Dr.-Ing. Thomas Dallmann, head of the Aachen research group at Fraunhofer FHR.

The ATRIUM radar target sensor was presented at the Automotive Testing Expo in Stuttgart in May.