There was a need to develop a forward-looking radar sensor for an Adaptive Cruise Control system with stop&go and cut-in situation capabilities. A single sensor with a seven-beam antenna shall provide improved angular coverage to overcome the limited angular coverage and close-range tracking capabilities of current radar sensors. This was supposed to enable the implementation of stop&go modes and the acquisition of new targets in cut-in situations.
The sensor's improved range resolution shall allow target tracking at close distances. These two features should allow the implementation of stop&go modes for highway driving, and they ought to be developed to allow the future incorporation of stereoscopic vision technology for improved urban driving. The sensor construction shall be implemented using MMIC technology. Low-cost RF circuitry and metallised plastic antenna technologies should enable mass-market production. The FLRS hardware and software have been validated by road testing in demonstrator vehicles (trucks and cars).
The project's primary objective was to develop and demonstrate a Forward Looking Radar Sensor (FLRS) with improved capabilities that allows operation in stop&go modes and early detection of cut-in situations. This will enhance the functionality of the sensor in an Autonomous Cruise Control system.
Additionally, but no less important, this is to demonstrate the feasibility of a low-cost, high-volume production design that might allow the product to be mass-produced. These objectives should be achieved with a multibeam antenna utilising metallised moulded plastic and a multichannel RF transceiver using MMIC technology. The FLRS consisted of a single, multibeam, integrated sensor and include unique built-in sensor self-test capability and algorithms for adaptive waveform generation and multiple target tracking.
This advanced driver assistance system was supposed to improve safety in dense traffic and reaction to emergency situations by providing enhanced range resolution and angular coverage.
There were test vehicles used to evaluate and validate the system in high-speed, stop&go and cut-in situations, including short- and long-term validation and performance analyses. These test vehicles were equipped with systems for the collection and analysis of data utilizing system components such as multibeam antenna, MMIC chipset, RF transceiver module, electronic hardware and FLRS, developed based on prior specifications. Examination of safety and legal (liability) issues, identification of risks in market introduction and identification of optimum channels for dissemination and sharing information completed the project.
Completion of the first FLRS prototype - the prototype was integrated and tested for evaluation in the demonstrator.
The partners have been able to develop technologies that not only can improve their business but also that have, synergistically contributed to the well being of the population at large and specifically the reduction of traffic accidents and the human lives and property losses due to them.
A mass production radome has been developed of moulded Ultem with 10% glass fibres. Metallic stripes are printed in the interior surface of the radome which functions as polarization filter. The conductive stripes have been replaced by resistive material and a radome heater has successfully implemented which improves the FLR performance in very cold weather by melting the ice and snow that otherwise could accumulate on the aperture.
- The original ERA design of the antenna was transformed to one appropriate for molding materials;
- The initial transceiver design allowed the demonstration of a multi-beam system. It has an impressive performance and 20 modules have been fabricated which have been used to fabricate 20 FLR's. The greatest drawback of this transceiver is its cost. It is therefore necessary to find a solution to this problem which otherwise is a non-starter;
- The analogue and digital signal processing and the communications electronics have been integrated three times to reduce the number of cards;
- The power supply plays an important role in a radar. The signals are so faint and the amplification so large, that any noise contributed by the power supply leaks into the radar signal and produces all kind of spurious;
- The housing has been designed so that the front of the radar containing the RF module and the antennas does not change with the successive steps of size reduction. Only the back of the housing has been reduced each time the number of cards was reduced;
- The Real Time software has been developed more or less along the standards of Software Development;
- The radar algorithms developed for this FLR are of the most advanced that can be found even in military applications;
- DENSETRAFFIC has reached its conclusion, but the development of RoadEye's FLR continues. It is believed that the technologies developed during DENSETRAFFIC are going to give fruits in due time. It is clear that the market growth is much slower than predicted and therefore the numbers of FLR's sold per year do not warrant further investments.
The DENSETRAFFIC proposal addressed the policy of the EU to develop Information Society technologies in a way that they will impact on the everyday lives of all citizens to raise their expectations for a better quality of life. In this case it is for safer driving conditions and a reduction of collisions by incorporating innovative technology into vehicles that will enable them to recognize the problem, warn the driver and automatically affect the vehicle's control system to avoid the collision completely or, at least, minimize the damage resulting from it.
The system involves the integration of sensors and software with the vehicle's control system as well as testing the system to prove reliability. The technologies involved require the expertise of companies specialising in a variety of different areas situated in various European countries. An important consideration for including companies from different countries is the growing awareness of the need for vehicle standardization across Europe - vehicles are often assembled from parts manufactured in other countries and manufacturers of vehicles have assembly plants in countries often dictated by economic considerations. For this reason new systems need to meet standards of all European countries and standards are becoming unified.
In April 1997, a new EU Communication establishing a programme for the period 1997-2001 was adopted. The Communication takes stock of road safety matters in the European Union for the years 1993-1996. Among other trends it noted that figures vary widely from one country to another and there was an explosion in the number of cars in certain Member States that has gone hand in hand with a worsening of the situation in those countries.
The Commission noted that there is an economic justification for taking measures costing up to one million Euro in order to save a single life ("the million Euro rule"). Using this approach, the Commission identifies several courses of action including the use of collision warning and cruise control systems. A reliable cruise control system, such as DENSETRAFFIC, will allow more vehicles to occupy the same area of roadway with greater safety and will reduce the strain of driving in dense traffic conditions.