Highway to the Safety Zone: Flexible Field of View

Posted by Jonathan Fix
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They say never cry wolf. But what happens when there is actually a wolf? Safety technology is hitting the heavy-duty vehicle industry in spades. The ability to protect blind spots using object detection technology—no matter the working or weather conditions—is a real lifesaver for heavy-duty vehicles in any environment.

Now, when an alarm goes off that indicates something is in the way, it’s a clear call to action. Or rather, non-action. It’s a signal to stop, and do a safety check. But what if the radar’s field of view is too wide or too long—and the alert goes off too often—for relatively insignificant objects? The never cry wolf effect will set in, and that can lead to complacency.

This is one of the reasons PRECO Electronics’ engineers are hard at work further developing flexible field of view antenna technologies. Flexible field of view provides the ability to customize the field of view for PRECO’s radars – designing and customizing the radar unit for customers’ needs, such as making it narrow, wide, short or long range (figure 1).

Antenna_Tech_Fig_1.jpgFigure 1. Radar detection pattern lighter colors correspond to high return energy and darker blue colors have low return energy (more difficult to detect target).

Every heavy-duty vehicle is different, and requires a different range of focus when it comes to protecting the people and property around it. With flexible field of view, these ranges can adjust to precisely fit environmental factors. Before we dive into the details, let’s break down the different ranges and how they apply to heavy-duty industries:

  • Narrow range applications include vehicles in close quarters such as a fork lift or in urban environments
  • Short range applications also apply to the narrow range applications, with some additional applications including side object detection
  • Wide range field of view is applicable to mining and trucking, where an operator would like to view the whole side of a large vehicle
  • Finally, the long range option can be applied to construction or mining vehicles in open environments

Other applications for field of view include seeing the front or side of a vehicle – this is what current autonomous vehicles are using for automated cruise control driving and blind spot detection. For these applications the field of view would be selected and sometimes a different radar architecture is required. For these applications there are two popular radar architectures: Interferometry (Inter-fur-o-meh-tree), which detects the angle of a target within field of view, or electronically steerable phased array antenna network (figure 2) also known as Beam Forming Networks (BFN). BFN are popular for forward looking radars and some are used in side object detection radars. BFN tend to be large in size and more expensive to design, but new technology is making this method less expensive and smaller. At this time, interferometry is less expensive and less hardware complex (smaller).

Antenna_Tech_Fig_2.jpgFigure 2. Corporate fed phased array

Interferometry will tell the operator where the detected target is with distance and angle (figure 3). With a less complex hardware design the processing of the radar signal tends to be more complex and customized for its particular application.

Antenna_Tech_Fig_3.pngFigure 3. Phased Interferometry

PRECO’s engineering team is continually researching what radar technologies work best for different types of heavy equipment and creating the hardware to better suit the heavy-duty industries they serve.  Flexible field of view advancements allow us to design and customize radar units to precisely fit your safety vision, whether it’s narrow, wide, short, or long range, or a combo package. Here, breakthroughs come as a matter of course.

Tell us what other radar technology topics you would like to learn more about and we’ll have our engineering team break it down.

Contact a Safety Specialist

Topics: Safety Technology, Autonomous Vehicles, Radar Technology, Flexible Field of View, Antenna Technology

Who We Are

PRECO Electronics is a global technology provider that improves safety for operators, worksites, and the public. The effectiveness of our object detection radar systems is unmatched in heavy duty vehicle industries.

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