US Army Funds Perception Sensing Development for Autonomous Ground Systems

Metawave will develop a long-range radar sensing and perception solution for off-road autonomous vehicle operation in adverse weather and complex operating conditions By DA Reporter / 05 Jan 2023
US Army Funds Perception Sensing Development for Autonomous Ground Systems

Radar sensing and perception technology provider Metawave Corporation has been awarded a US Army contract to enhance its defense application-proven Carson radar technology platform to support off-road perception sensing and other advancements for autonomous ground vehicles and systems. 

The resulting Hudson technology platform utilizes Metawave’s unique long-range and all-weather detection, tracking, and perception capabilities enabled by its patented phased array beamforming and steering front-end Marconi chips, highly integrated Antenna-in-Package (AiP) modules, and proven high-resolution and accurate radar algorithms. The new Hudson radar platform will also incorporate enhanced Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) from NVIDIA. 

The $1.7 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract also includes an option for a Phase III follow-on contract, which would allow for the further development and deployment of the solution.

In addition to the Hudson radar platform, Metawave will also develop Anthem — a proprietary Recursive Neural Network Machine Learning (ML) software platform comprising lidar, camera, and fusion stacks to support advanced sensing and perception radar platforms. 

Integral to the Hudson platform, Anthem will expand the capabilities of Aware (the industry standard collaboration intelligence platform that identifies and reduces risk, strengthens security and compliance) to include wider sets of classification libraries and Regions of Interest (RoI) identification. 

Anthem is trainable over time to support various off-road terrain operations and new scenarios such as the need to differentiate between real and negative obstacles, dense and thin shrubs, trees, rocks etc., allowing vehicles to operate more safely in unknown environments.

“We are thrilled to have been selected by the US Army for this important contract,” said Dr. Maha Achour, founder and CEO at Metawave. “The power of phased array radar is well-known to the defense sector, but rapid innovation and advancements in millimeter, semiconductor-enabled radar solutions for safe, driverless automotive technologies have become increasingly attractive for mission-critical military operations.”

“Autonomous defense applications require the highest level of precision enabled by Metawave’s unique chips, modules, and radar algorithms which have proven to be a valuable asset in the automotive industry,” said Dr. Stephen Aubin, defense industry expert and member of Metawave’s board of directors. ”This is a great opportunity for Metawave to take radar technologies to the next level with the Hudson and Anthem solution which could easily support other Department of Defense requirements such as aerial and marine autonomous operations.” 

Through the SBIR Phase II contract, Metawave will be working to address the US Army’s four challenge areas in perception sensing for autonomous ground systems: 

  • Off-road sensing
  • Adverse weather sensing
  • Long range sensing
  • Reduction of processing burden for ground vehicles

Metawave’s Hudson architecture addresses these requirements with the use of Doppler Division Multiple Access (DDMA) advanced waveforms enabled by Marconi chips to provide fast frame rates over wide field-of-view (FoV) in both azimuth and elevation directions at ranges up to 500 meters. 

By combining DDMA with AiP analog beamsteering capabilities, less processing is needed to deliver real-time high signal power perception sensing and accuracy in challenging environments. The benefit is faster response time and more robust performance in complex operating conditions. 

Metawave has developed a way to combine analog beamforming and digital MIMO into a hybrid scalable radar architecture and software stack that solves the challenges of long-range, high-resolution imaging radar with the lowest size, cost, and weight. 

The Marconi analog beamformer chip shapes and scans a narrow fan beam along one axis and scans a much wider field of view using Digital MIMO along the other axis. This approach mitigates interference and eliminates ghost images with its low side lobe-level calibration. 

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