A Driver's Sixth Sense

Released: 9/26/2011 11:35 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: IEEE Spectrum Magazine
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Newswise — Recently developed radars can take over some of the chores of driving while reducing the chance of a collision with a car ahead, but you'd get far more out of them if the other cars on the road had them, too. That way, the car in back would be less likely to rear-end you.

Now comes a new radar-chip technology that promises to lead to such wide use by making these radar systems more affordable. The technology is based on good old silicon, which has several advantages over the standard chips using gallium arsenide. First, silicon benefits from a vast scale of production, which keeps manufacturing costs down. Second, the new chips are more capable, which means one or two of them can replace a fistful of the gallium-arsenide kind. Finally, their superior performance provides better resolution of objects on the road--always handy for picking out that little motorcycle up ahead.

Besides making driving safer and less taxing, long-range radar may help cars form electronic networks with one another and with the physical environment, leading to a more integrated transportation system. Smarter cars could thus lead to more intelligent roads.


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