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Government funds all weather driverless sensor project

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Development of radar sensors for autonomous vehicles that work in even the toughest weather conditions is to be taken forward by Navtech Radar and the Oxford Robotics Institute with funding from Innovate UK.

The team will research and produce a sensor that can provide 360-degree high resolution coverage and is capable of operating in a variety of weather states that change rapidly.

This will significantly improve the capabilities and safety of emerging autonomous vehicles in difficult conditions, when safe and reliable transportation is most critical, the project team says.

“If autonomous cars are to become commonplace, they need to work in all weathers – that’s a fact,” commented professor Paul Newman from Oxford University, which leads the Robotics Institute. “Radar technology has the potential to do this in an affordable way, and we’re thrilled to be working with Navtech Radar to help make this a reality.”

With the majority of driverless cars currently operating in California – where it is sunny all year round – the need for accurate situational awareness in adverse weather conditions has been largely overlooked, the team points out.

The current sensors used cannot accurately function in heavy rain, snow or fog, it claims. As a result is thought this new research project could be pivotal in ensuring autonomous vehicles can perform in all environments and appeal to an international market.

Navtech Radar managing director Philip Avery added: “Investments such as this grant are invaluable in fostering innovation and the creation of new products that meet customer requirements in the most effective, cost efficient way possible.”