A new generation of connected vehicle: Beamforming, technology for multi-element antennas at very high frequencies

A new generation of connected vehicle: Beamforming, technology for multi-element antennas at very high frequencies

Until now, a connected vehicle, in which vehicles have an awareness of their surrounds, has been beset with limitations. Improvements are needed particularly in the areas of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). New infotainment systems and more recent communication systems and their sensors, both of which require progressively higher levels of autonomy, are also of concern. These applications will eventually need to produce a beam of radiation that is directional and also adaptable, with the ability to scan the space surrounding the vehicle to establish efficient data communications. It will also need to locate targets more accurately. New multi-element antennas for data communications or radar detection, particularly for antennas working at millimetre wave frequencies, have responded to this challenge. Here, technology has been developed to adapt these types of antennas of connected vehicles by using a technique called Beamforming. This technique is increasingly employed in wireless communication such as G, LTE and WLAN, in 3D sensors, sonar medical imaging and also audio systems. However, it has not been used for communications in the automotive industry though this is set to change.

Beamforming enables the connected vehicle’s antenna to form narrow beams, which can simultaneously or sequentially scan the 3D space to select a concentration of radiation transmitted or received from an antenna in a specific direction and space. This selective concentration of radiation improves the signal-to-noise ratio and also eliminates interference. For complex scenarios, the results have been an improvement in the reliability of the system including situations such as movement of a vehicle at a high velocity (for urban, suburban and rural zones), and also the improvement in the scope of V2X (V2V and V2I) systems, greater spectral and energy efficiencies, a significant increase in capacity by achieving GBps speeds, and, in general, an increase in resolution and accuracy, which increases with frequency of use. In addition, the introduction of a reconfigurable multibeam communication system for sub-6 GHz, particularly at mmW frequencies, will provide information such as the angle and the arrival time, the sources of the incoming signals containing important data like the location of infrastructure, the position of another car, a satellite, etc., and an assistance to safety applications with the ability to reduce interference, which is common in a highly dense environment. It also connects with land- based and satellite systems.

Eventually, an advanced Beamforming technique could enable the development of cognitive radar with improved resolution and a better quality of radar images, greater immunity from interference, and a higher capacity to learn from the environment. Combined with sensors, it could provide information that is robust and complete, bringing us closer to a 3D virtual image of the environment in real time.

In short, the Beamforming technique applied to the next generation of reconfigurable vehicle communication systems will create the opportunity for a safer generation of vehicles that through the transmission of data in high velocity environments are better connected, have a greater knowledge of the environment and are more environmentally friendly .