When we discuss advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), we often refer to technology that allows a car to view and interpret its external environment—for instance, detecting pedestrians and other vehicles. Just as important, however, is an ADAS’ ability to provide safety inside the car via driver monitoring systems and occupant monitoring systems.

In-Cabin Monitoring System

In-cabin monitoring systems are a crucial part of ADAS. Image used courtesy of Infineon

One of the most popular in-cabin monitoring systems is radar sensing. In the past week alone, multiple companies have released new radar-based solutions for passenger safety within a vehicle. With summer around the corner, each of these companies has underscored the importance of in-cabin radar sensing to issue alerts in the event of children and pets being forgotten in hot cars. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 38 children (age 15 and under) die from heatstroke every year after being left in a vehicle. 

NXP, Infineon, DERMALOG, and Rheinmetall have unveiled new ways to reduce this statistic and protect backseat passengers.

NXP Combines UWB Radar and Fine Ranging

NXP recently released a new radar-based solution for ultra-fine motion detection. The new product, an expansion of the company’s Trimension family, is called the Trimension SR160. According to NXP, Trimension SR160 represents the industry’s first single-chip solution to merge ultra-wideband (UWB) radar technology with fine-ranging capabilities.

Operating at 6–8 GHz, the new chip is designed to provide high-precision data about object location and distance regardless of the environment. NXP says the chip provides angle-of-arrival information for more precision in applications that require localization capabilities.

UWB localization technology

NXP says its UWB localization technology, Trimension, can help users determine a device’s relative position. Image used courtesy of NXP

By integrating these functions together onto a single chip, NXP claims that the SR160 has the unique ability to manage both radar and ranging functionality simultaneously. The hope is that these dual features will make it both easier and cost-effective to add person detection and motion sensitivity to IoT and automotive applications. In the press release, NXP stated one target goal for this product as in-cabin monitoring to protect infants left in hot cars.

Infineon’s Releases UWB Radar Sensor

Infineon also made headlines last week when it announced a new UWB radar sensor to power in-cabin monitoring systems.

Bare die block diagram of the BGT60ATR24C

Bare die block diagram of the BGT60ATR24C. Image used courtesy of Infineon

Called the BGT60ATR24C, the new product is a 60-GHz radar sensor for vehicles that operate based on UWB frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) techniques. The product comes highly integrated, including an RF front end, an analog baseband, a 4-channel ADC, and more in a single package.  Further, Infineon says the device is optimized for power and space, coming in a 6.0 x 6.0 x 0.83 mm3 PG-VFWLB-76-1 eWLP package and offering power-saving modes as low as 00.03 mA at 1.71 V and active modes as low as 201 mA.

With other features, such as 4-GHz bandwidth and SPI interfaces for chip configuration and radar data acquisition, the product is built for short-range sensing applications like in-cabin monitoring systems. 

DERMALOG and Rheinmetall Team Up for DMS

German biometrics company DERMALOG is also cracking down on next-generation driver monitoring systems and passenger protection in its latest team-up with integrated technology company Rheinmetall.

The companies intend to develop driver monitoring systems that specialize in recognizing when drivers are distracted and issuing warning signals. While details of the collaboration are still unfolding, the companies say their work couples image sensors, such as cameras and radar, with high-performance computation and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Block diagram of a driver monitoring system

Example of a driver monitoring system. Image used courtesy of NXP

The partnership aims to merge DERMALOG’s expertise in biometrics with Rheinmetall’s expertise in artificial intelligence and radar sensing to develop a complete solution. As a further corollary, the companies believe their work can be extended to object recognition and full-cabin monitoring, including passengers in back seats.

Have you ever worked on a design intended for a potentially life-saving use case, like passenger protection? How did it change your approach to the project? Share your thoughts in the comments below.