Mini-radars could help enhance robot vision

Mini-radar paves way for robot vision revolution

A Norwegian company has introduced an innovative impulse-based radar chip with ultra-high resolution paving the way for revolutionary applications in robot vision, mine cleaning or vital signs monitoring.

Having started in 2004 as a small start-up, Novelda – the company behind the project – is currently looking to expand possibilities of the technology by creating a mini-radar that could be used by customers without any prior knowledge of radar technology.

“In this project we’re looking at how we can keep developing not only the actual radar but also the sensor that processes the radar image,” said Novelda’s co-founder Dag T Wisland. “This will enable us to move up the value chain, fill in the gap between the technology and the customer, and bring us closer to the market.”

The company foresees its mini-radar could find use in many applications including building automation, security surveillance or technology for intelligent homes.

“Our radar can see right through things, so it could be placed out of sight, such as inside a wall,” said Novelda’s CEO Alf-Egil Bogen. “It is also very accurate and easy to program to define its range of detection, which makes it ideal for surveillance. It could also control an air-conditioning system, for instance, or count the people in a room, or be used as a parking sensor.”

Using its mini-radar, the team is trying to develop technology capable of guiding robots in the environment, avoiding obstacles and helping them move safely by sensing its surroundings, regardless of light conditions.

It would also be able to see through curtains and other light objects. Ultimately, Novelda’s developers hope to make the radar capable of mapping a room and laying out its own route to follow.

“The next breakthrough,” Mr Bogen predicts, “will be in consumer-oriented radars in televisions, smoke detectors, thermostats, telephones and portable computer devices.”

Earlier this year, in cooperation with Samsung, the company has launched a land mine detector mounted on vehicles and a device measuring asphalt thickness. The system has also been successfully deployed in health care applications – monitoring heart rate, taking wireless ECG readings, and measuring fluid in the lungs.

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