Ganesh S Rao has over 20 years of engineering leadership experience in the automotive industry. He has been associated with Continental in the niche Autonomous Mobility (ADAS) for the past ten years and has played multiple leadership roles for Radar, Camera, AI, Driving Function, Data Analytics and Software Platform and Ecosystem.
Can you talk about the evolution of imaging radar technology?
The radar systems were introduced in the 1990s with the launch of the first radar-based adaptive cruise control (ACC) system. The ACC system used a long-range radar sensor to detect and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. It used radio waves to inform the drivers about their surroundings. With time, these systems have become much more sophisticated, and several radar systems like short-range radar (SRR), medium-range radar (MRR), long-range radar (LRR), satellite radars, surround radars, and 4D imaging radar sensors have been introduced.
What's the speciality of 4D Imaging?
Ultra-high-resolution imaging radar sensors, often known as 4D radars, deliver detailed images of the radar environment with a broad field of view and altitude, distance, and speed information. The additional fourth measurement dimension captures a complete image of the object and the elevation angle with an increased resolution. It helps with automated driving by offering real-time object recognition that works under all conditions. Previously, the radar systems worked with a bandwidth of up to 1GHz, but 4D radars can operate up to 4GHz.
When did Continental begin developing this system?
Continental started developing 4D radars in 2016 and introduced them in the market in 2021, especially for L3 driving. ARS540 is a high-performance 4D premium long-range radar sensor. It enables highly automated driving combined with other technologies and provides the best radar performance in a state-of-the-art sensor size.
What is the plan for the immediate future?
Continental is developing the next-generation state-of-the-art imaging radar, which succeeds ARS540. It is a high-performance, premium, long-range radar sensor that enables highly automated driving combined with other technologies. It provides the best radar performance for critical use cases in urban and highway scenarios. It is based on the 5th generation of imaging radars, updated cyber security features, sophisticated interference robustness, and significantly reduced power consumption.
What kind of growth do you expect for Continental?
Recently, our customers have seen an increased interest in 4D imaging radars. Regarding future trends, market growth is expected for front-sensing radars. Initially, it will be limited to long-range/high-speed front sensing, but after 2030, it will also expand to front, mid and short-range.
The adoption of 4D imaging radar is expected to accelerate as front mid and short-range, high-speed, high-resolution sensing will be nearly 200 times greater in 2040.
Continental recently partnered with Aurora to make the future generation of Aurora’s flagship integrated hardware and software systems commercially scalable. This hardware-as-a-service business relationship aims to deliver customers safe, reliable, uptime-optimised and commercially scalable autonomous driving systems through the Aurora Horizon platform. It was developed to offer a safer, more reliable, predictable, and cost-efficient driver service to supplement the human driver supply. Using this service, carriers and fleet operators can better utilise the potential of their vehicle fleets, scale business on demand, and help address today’s driver shortage.
How do interconnected technologies evolve in the next ten years, when autonomous driving may become a reality in some matured markets?
The automotive industry is undergoing significant digital transformation, affecting both in-vehicle technologies and how the vehicle interacts with passengers, the environment, infrastructure, and other vehicles on the road. Vehicles are now much more than just a way to get from one place to another and are known as ‘Mobile Living Spaces’.
Connectivity and user experience are thus critical components of this transformation. Connected and smart mobility technologies such as navigation, GPS, voice assistant, infotainment systems and smart access are already standard features in modern automobiles. However, this is only the beginning of the transformation. Connectivity is important for cars to perform complex tasks and on-demand information that improves the drivers' overall experience. Thus, incorporating 4D imaging radars will further help improve the overall safety scenario and transform the driving experience.
Introducing more robust detection systems will improve the over and under-rideable classification, decreasing false positive rates. Technologies like advanced interference mitigation, along with detection range, elevation resolution and separability for autonomous mobility, will define the future of mobility. Presently, electric vehicles consume a significant amount of power; with the advancement in 4D imaging radars, there will be a decrease in power consumption by the vehicles, which will support the requirements of the OEMs. It will also improve cybersecurity, which will help keep the passengers’ data safe and protect sensitive information.
With the development of AI technologies, Continental’s low-level sensor fusion, along with a competent camera portfolio, will offer immense value proposition and scalability to OEMs for autonomous driving in the coming years.
What are the key drivers for growth?
The increased investments in autonomous and automated driving, stringent safety regulations, and a rise in consumer demand for ADAS have emerged as key drivers for the Automotive 4D Imaging Radar Market. The cost of autonomous vehicles relies on sensors and ADAS technologies. As a result, the cost of upcoming technologies like semi-autonomous driving and smart driver assistance is expected to decrease substantially. Consequently, more people will soon be able to purchase them, and innovation continues to dominate the automotive and tech sectors.
As people become more aware of advanced technologies, customers expect their vehicles to be equipped with the latest features and safety technologies that offer more convenience and comfort, thus driving the demand for 4D imaging radar technology. As the automotive industry prioritises safety and innovation, the adoption of 4D imaging radar is expected to rise, transforming the automotive landscape and paving the way for a safer and more efficient driving future.
While quite a few companies are operating in this space, what are the compelling reasons for the customers to reach out to Continental?
Continental has had a profound radar expertise for more than twenty years. We developed the first radar in the year 1999, and till now, we have produced more than 100 million radar sensors. Our latest version is the successor of the first-to-market 4D imaging radar with refined technology, offering quick and easy software updates throughout the product’s lifecycle.
The latest version of the 4D imaging radar sensor developed by the company helps reduce false positive rates as it offers a more robust detection profile, leading to better over-rideable and under-rideable classification. It also mitigates mutual interference and has an outstanding detection range, elevation resolution and separability for autonomous mobility. The latest version provides the same data interface as the previous version, so existing recorded data can be re-used. It further consumes low power to support the new OEM requirements while protecting customers' sensitive data.
How will Continental’s technology help OEMs to have competitive advantages when software-defined vehicles (SDVs) become a reality?
As market trends continuously evolve, stakeholders' requirements are changing. Continental enables new business models for its customers by introducing new functions as the company believes that functions can evolve and improve over a lifetime, and these functions can be added through software. We also use the same functions over vehicle car lines and brands, edge computing, and well-established and highly capable cloud technologies are used in automotive. We also enable data-driven engineering.
We recently partnered with Aurora to make the future generation of Aurora’s flagship integrated hardware and software systems commercially scalable. This hardware-as-a-service business relationship aims to deliver customers safe, reliable, uptime-optimised and commercially scalable autonomous driving systems through the Aurora Horizon platform. This platform was developed to offer a safer, more reliable, predictable, and cost-efficient driver service to supplement the human driver supply. Using this service, carriers and fleet operators can better utilise the potential of their vehicle fleets, scale business on demand, and help address today’s driver shortage.