U.S. Air Force Funds Adaptation of Automotive Radar for Autonomous “Flying Cars”

posted on 7th January 2021 by Eddie Saunders
U.S. Air Force Funds Adaptation of Automotive Radar for Autonomous "Flying Cars"

Metawave’s SPEKTRA is a compact analog antenna system that has provided the automotive industry with high-precision radar capabilities accurate out to 330 meters. The current long-range high-resolution SPEKTRA analog radar design enables critical features for next-generation cars, including adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and automated emergency braking. Based on the level of precision required to safely deliver these features in all-weather conditions, SPEKTRA is an excellent candidate for a rugged sensor system for future eVTOL aircraft, and will enable precision eVTOL navigation and obstacle avoidance.

As part of this Phase One effort, Metawave, in partnership with the Arizona State University Center for Wireless Information Systems and Computational Architectures, will modify the SPEKTRA radar for longer ranges and navigation in three-dimensional (3D) space.

Maha Achour, CEO and founder of Metawave, said the requirements of the aerospace application are a natural extension of SPEKTRA’s current capabilities extending high-resolution imaging radars to Ariel Vehicles.

“Both the automotive and eVTOL markets require the highest level of precision delivered by SPEKTRA,” Achour said. “For both applications, the ability to reliably distinguish between several objects close together in all weather and light conditions is an important capability for all phases of transport, including flight. The most significant difference is the operational range of the radar.”

The AGILITY PRIME initiative was launched by AFWERX, the new rapid innovation branch of the Air Force. AFWERX is devoted to quickly fielding emerging commercial technologies for a variety of future-facing applications. AFWERX’s eVTOL project is its biggest program to date, awarding $38M thus far to more than 250 selected proposals for aircraft and flight-enabling technologies.