Autonomous driving: Ground radar keeps the track in bad weather

Researchers from the US have developed a radar technique that keeps autonomous cars on the track even in bad weather.

Bodenradar "sieht" auch bei schlechtem Wetter

The new radar technology provides autonomous car with a clear view – even in case of fog. (Picture: johnnyb/pixelio.de)

Autonomous driving is still a matter of fair weather. During heavy rainfalls, snowfall or fog, the sensor that have been tested up to now, reach their limits. Now, researchers of the Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a method that helps to keep autonomous cars on track even in bad weather. They equipped a SUV with a new ground-penetrating radar system that locates the vehicle on the track inch-perfect. The scientists put the self-driving SUV on a snowy road during night and it didn’t get off course.

The Localizing Ground-Penetrating Radar (LGPR) sends high frequency radar signals in the ground during the drive. Their reflections generate a map of the ground and match it with a certain track section. During subsequent travels in the corresponding section the LGPR is able to determine the position of the vehicle thanks to the saved radar signals and the actual signal it receives. In this way the ground radar takes over the task of the other camera and sensor systems when they only function to a limited extent in adverse road conditions. According to the Lincoln Laboratory, the LGPR is able to determine the position of the vehicle to within four centimetres at a speed of 100 km/h. Still, one of the disadvantages is that a map still has to be created first, unknown streets can’t get recorded.

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