‘Where am I?’ and ‘What is around me?’ are the fundamental questions that an autonomous vehicle must be able to answer at any time. Sensor strategy is quickly becoming a major competitive edge for OEMs delivering off-road autonomy. For autonomous off-road vehicles to operate reliably in all conditions, it is essential that the sensors that let them ‘see’ the world are also designed to operate in these conditions. It is not acceptable for sensors to require constant cleaning and yearly maintenance or to be inoperable in adverse weather conditions. Traditional approaches have been to use what is available, such as automotive radars that are optimized for highway driving, cameras that struggle in changing lighting and weather conditions, and laser scanners that fall short of providing the reliability required for off-road vehicles.
Navtech Radar designs and manufactures industrial radar sensors with a focus on industrial automation challenges. Its 360° high-resolution radars can detect objects up to 500m away in any condition. Navtech has proved its radar sensors for over 20 years. Its sensors in Port Botany, Australia, were installed on straddle carriers in 2007 and feature radars that have a design life of 10 years, require no maintenance or cleaning, and operate effectively in the challenging coastal weather conditions.
The CIR, Navtech’s flagship product, is in use on industrial vehicles around the world in the mining, ports, logistics, marine and rail industries. This year, Navtech has two new products that will help industrial OEMs take the next step in reliability. A compact version of the CIR, the CAS, is designed to be 40% smaller and is intended for smaller vehicle platforms. The Terran360 is a single-sensor radar-based odometry and localization solution that provides centimeter positioning of vehicles without the need for GPS or additional infrastructure. This solution enables off-road autonomous vehicles to answer the fundamental question ‘Where am I?’ at all times. These two new Navtech products allow OEMs to provide autonomous solutions that have greater availability than what was previously possible, bringing real-world benefits to customers.