Texas Instruments’ obstacle detection sensors can prevent parking lot accidents


In less than a month, a multitude of technology companies will head to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show 2020. During the event, the industry’s leading lights will debut their latest innovations, including renowned chipmaker Texas Instruments (TI). Notably, the firm will be highlighting a host of cutting edge automotive components that will empower tomorrow’s smart cars. One such development is the firm’s millimeter wave (mmWave) obstacle detection sensors.

TI’s AWR1642 single-chip radar with an integrated digital signal processor can make parking safer. As such, it could save thousands of people from the 50,000 parking lot crashes that happen every year.

How TI’s Obstacle Detection Sensors Work

Today’s smart cars utilize a host of different components to make vehicle operation safer, easier, and more comfortable. TI’s obstacle detection sensors give drivers with information regarding their cars’ position relative to other objects within the same area. Because the chipset utilizes accuracy mmWave tech, it can provide users with accurate collision warnings within very limited spaces.

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Consequently, the firm’s components can tell drivers if they have enough room to safely open a car door or trunk within a parking space.

With the integration of mmWave tech, TI’s system engineers have greatly refined the accuracy of their obstacle detection sensors. The chipset is now refined enough to determine if another vehicle, pole, shopping cart, or bicycle is too close to a car’s doors. As such, it can prevent drivers from incurring repair costs and potential insurance rate hikes.

Indeed, Insurify notes it costs between a few hundred to $1,500 to repair a dented car door.

Therefore, auto manufacturers that utilize high-quality obstacle detection sensors can market the vehicles as having lower maintenance costs than older cars. However, mmWave collision systems can do more than prevent parking lot car damage.

The Importance of Automotive Occupancy Grids

Traditionally, when people talk about vehicle safety, the conversation turns to features like airbags, brakes, and lighting. More recently, automakers have integrated collision systems into their vehicles that help drivers avoid hitting hard to see objects. But those features rely on cameras and now antiquated sensor arrays. TI’s system engineers have developed new components that allow for the creation of automotive occupancy grids.

That is, the firm’s single-chip obstacle detection sensors provide data that works with vehicles onboard diagnostics to generate a top-down view of the reflectors in a given area. Automotive occupancy grids can tell drivers when they’ve parked too close to another object. Moreover, because they can determine the automobile’s instantaneous velocity, they can decide if its speed or course needs correction.

Accordingly, collision systems that utilize TI’s mmWave chipsets can alert operators to the presence of bicyclists, animals, and children.

As a driver’s assistance tool, automotive occupancy grids have the potential to save lives. But the technology’s true potential lay in autonomous vehicle operation.

According to the National Safety Board, 66 percent of American drivers make phone calls while driving through parking areas. Moreover, 56 percent use social media navigating, and 49 percent take photos or watch videos when behind the wheel in lots and garages. As a result, the agency reports 60,000 people are injured, and 500 are killed every year in parking accidents.

However, the serious global problem of distracted driving isn’t unsolvable. Recently, technology companies have made massive strides in developing full self-driving vehicles. In the future, automakers will be able to use TI’s obstacle detection sensors to make autonomous cars safe on the roads and in shopping centers, sports stadiums, and school pick-up areas.

Click here to get more details about Texas Instruments’ CES 2020 presentation.


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