Radar technology is a well-known field used since 1940s. This technology has been traditionally applied in military and aerospace fields while it has not been highly exploited in civil applications. However, in the last years, radar transceivers cost-reduction and miniaturization have allowed its application in other fields such as traffic and vehicular safety.
These low-cost radar sensors uses the Doppler effect to obtain information about obstacles or targets in its range. The radar transmits a signal and the frequency shift of the returned signal provides the velocity of the moving targets. There are two main operating modes for these radar sensors:
- Unmodulated Doppler radar. This operating mode is the most commonly used. The hardware and processing software needed is quite simple which allows using these sensors in size-constraint and resource-contraint devices. However, they only provide velocity information of moving objects in its range. That means that static objects are missed, the distance of the objects cannot be obtained, and two objects moving at the same velocity will be detected as one.
- Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar. This operating mode is used to obtain the distance of static and moving objects. The radar signal is frequency modulated -usually with a frequency ramp- to allow obtaining distances and velocities from the returning signal frequency shift. Thereby, it is necessary to generate a signal to realize the frequency modulation which increases the hardware complexity. Besides, the software processing is harder as there are much more information to process and there are more noise sources from unwanted environment targets.
In B105 Electronic Systems Lab we have developed a full radar system that can operate in both modes and includes all the hardware and the software necessary. This radar system is being used for traffic safety and traffic monitoring applications in several research projects.