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Hyundai Invests in Developer of Intelligent Radars for Autonomous Vehicles

“A new radar system that can increase resolution and accuracy with an AI engine will be a disruptive technology,” said John Suh, vice president of Hyundai CRADLE.

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Hyundai CRADLE, Hyundai Motor Co.’s corporate venturing and open innovation business, announced that it is investing in Metawave Corp. to build intelligent radars for autonomous vehicles.

Metawave is revolutionizing radar sensing by leveraging adaptive metamaterials (conventional materials using engineered structures with unique electromagnetic properties not found in nature) and artificial intelligence (AI) to create smart radars, according to Hyundai. The automaker noted that it is “closely evaluating new technologies, such as Metawave’s high-performance radar capable of 3-D imaging, for future autonomous platforms.”

“Next-generation radar technology can use advanced algorithms for object detection and classification,” said John Suh, vice president of Hyundai CRADLE. “A new radar system that can increase resolution and accuracy with an AI engine will be a disruptive technology.”

Three sensors are the fundamental components of the perception system for self-driving cars today: camera, LiDAR and radar.

The camera is the highest-resolution sensor but cannot see objects beyond 50 meters. LiDAR extends the range to about 150 meters, with a fairly high-resolution imaging capability. Both camera and LiDAR are affected by bad weather and dirty roads.

Radar, by its nature, operates at a lower frequency and “sees” objects at long ranges faster and in all weather and driving conditions. Today’s radar cannot cover wide angles at long ranges and lacks the resolution to differentiate between objects. It needs a large number of antennae and expensive chips to run the complex digital signals. This type of system takes time and energy, making it inefficient.

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Metawave’s advanced radar platform, WARLORD uses just one antenna and pushes the complexity of the analog space, using ultra-fast and precise responses, according to Hyundai. With WARLORD, the antenna itself shapes and steers the beam in all directions using pencil beams, deep learning engines and AI algorithms to recognize objects quickly and send 4-D point cloud to the sensor fusion.

“The investment by Hyundai represents another key company milestone and further proof of our rapid momentum as we bring WARLORD long-range radar with imaging and AI capabilities to autonomous vehicles,” said Metawave CEO Maha Achour. “With our talented team of mm-wave and metamaterial experts, we were the first to demonstrate electronically scanned metamaterial array for autonomous driving at 77 GHz. This technology will be an enabling factor for Hyundai and other auto leaders who are striving to improve the vehicle experience.”

In January, Hyundai and Aurora, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, announced a strategic partnership to bring self-driving Hyundai vehicles to market by 2021. The partnership will incorporate Aurora’s self-driving technology into Hyundai vehicles, starting with models custom-developed and launched in test programs and pilot cities.

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