Project at a glance : 79 GHz CSA

The Coordination and Support Activity (CSA) 79 GHz is a 3-year project within the 7th EU Framework Program. It runs for the period 2011-2014 and is coordinated by Robert Bosch. The basic intention and objective of this funding instrument are to establish and speed-up the worldwide harmonized frequency allocation for vehicle radars in the frequency band 77-81 GHz (79 GHz).

Expected results
From its very nature 79 GHz project initiates and promotes the 79 GHz rulemaking process in key countries of the world. The ultimate goal is to achieve for all countries the same regulation as already adopted by the European Commission Decision 2004/545/EC, which means with same emission power specification and frequency parameters. Consequently a harmonized worldwide 79 GHz frequency band can become available, a pre-requisite for large mass-market deployment.

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Introduction :
New and complex automotive radar applications are essential with regard to the long term goal of zero accidents and require short-range radars (SRR). Therefore the European Commission defined the 79 GHz band as the frequency allocation for automotive SRR. But European car manufacturers operate in world markets and therefore the 79 GHz frequency must be regulated on a global scale.

Speaking at the 79 GHz workshop held at ITU on 7 November 2012, Project Coordinator Jürgen Hildebrandt of Robert Bosch GmbH, confirmed that car radar technology is very important because it has proven it sales lives on the road (1). Mr. Hildebrandt expected that by the end of the project around mid-2014, the 79 GHz frequency range will be allocated in all key regions of the world (BRIC countries, USA, Canada, all the Gulf States and a large part of Asia). Once these targets will be achieved, he predicts that other countries will join the fold.

The 79 GHz project is also an important step within a larger EU vision of fully automated driving. Improvement of sensors is one of the key elements that make the automation of vehicle driving possible. China and Japan are developing new technologies to support thisevolution. But also the European Commission is looking at potential higher frequency bands than the 79 GHz for automotive use.

The 79 GHz: Advantages
Automotive radar applications are playing a key role with regard to the long term goal of zero accidents. New and complex applications require SSR that meet demanding requirements such as higher range resolution, better object discrimination, high spatial resolution and reduced mutual interference. SSR in the 77 GHz to 81 GHz frequency range are ideal for the next generation of sensors supporting the new requirements. Therefore in 2004 the European Commission defined the 79 GHz band as the frequency allocation for automotive SSR.

European car manufacturers and their suppliers can only be truly competitive in regional and world markets if the 79 GHz frequency allocation is regulated globally.

The 79 GHz band and a higher power limitation are essential for a wide range of safety functions : for instance the Collision Warning System (CWS) and Collision Mitigation System (CMS) provide an acoustic and/or optical warning to the driver and may prepare the braking system if the driver does not generate the necessary deceleration to avoid collision. Another example is the Vulnerable Road User Detection (VUD) that supports the detection of vulnerable road users (cyclists or pedestrians) in front in order to enable warning or assist brake functions.

Status worldwide implementation
A key goal of the 79 GHz project is to speed up the 79 GHz frequency adoption worldwide. At the start of the project in 2011, the 79 GHz radar equipment was authorized in the 27 EU member states and in most of other 21 CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) countries. (2) In all other countries, a lack of any regulatory framework for this frequency band made the operation of 79 GHz radar devices impossible. However various actions taken by the 79 GHz project partners resulted in an increased adoption rate.

In the USA a petition to adopt and release the 77 to 81 GHz band is expected by the end of 2013. Canada’s decision regarding 79 GHz partially follows the USA due to the cross border situation and direct neighbourhood to the USA.

Several Gulf States are preparing for the introduction and in Brazil activities are ongoing. In Argentina, the CSA79GHz project is in contact with relevant regulatory bodies. In Chile, the 79 GHz band has been regulated. China and India have no regulation for 79 GHz but currently discussions and initiatives are being promoted by the CSA 79 GHz project.

In Japan, the 79 GHz band is now regulated. A positive outcome is expected from countries like Korea where the legislation procedure is amended to accept 79 GHz. The 79 GHz project had a successful meeting with Thailand’s authorities and a petition will be submitted to request for the regulation of 79 GHz.

Next steps : 2013 Tokyo World Congress
A 79GHz project workshop will be held at the ITS World Congress in Tokyo on 17 October 2013. This workshop will provide a status overview of the project achievements globally. The workshop will also zoom in on the activities of the GARREG, the Global Automotive Radio Regulations Expert Group, to establish a worldwide acting technical committee and interest group for automotive frequency allocation issues.

The Special Interest Session (SIS16) “Automotive Radar on the Move – Toward International Frequency Harmonisation”, hosted on 16 October, will inform the ITS experts on the current status of the activities in the field of automotive radar systems. The speakers will focus both on the technology and the frequency regulation / allocation, analyzing pros and cons of the individual frequency ranges, and on the activities of GARREG.

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The 79 GHz frequency allocation’s larger strategic role for the future of ITS
The 79 GHz Coordination Support Action is an important step within a larger EU vision of fully automated driving. ERTICO is currently the Project Coordinator of the Coordination and Support Action “Vehicle and Road Automation Network”, a project within the EU 7th framework program. It is evident that automation of vehicle driving is made possible thanks to the improvement of sensors, power train control as well as communication. Vehicle and Road Automation will improve traffic safety by reducing the number of incidents due to human errors, driver’s distraction or reduced vigilance.

The reduction of traffic fatalities is a major consideration within the EU research plan Horizon 2020. This explains the increased focus on automotive radar sensors and cameras. The European slogan of the current decade with regard to the direction of automotive sensor development is : “2011-2020 – the Decade of Action for Road Safety”. The rollout of EuroNCAP (European New Car Assessment Program (3) is one of these EU road safety targets for 2020 asking for example for autonomous emergency braking system (AEBS) for trucks. The planned mandatory implementation of AEBS for commercial vehicles in Europe will significantly increase the take-up rate in trucks from a few percent in 2013 to full installation in 2015. As indicated by Daimler in an interview with Microwave Journal Frequency Matters (edition 13 September 2013), “it has to be assumed that the already established 77 GHz technology will be used when the AEBS function becomes mandatory. After 2015, an annual growth rate of 3 percent has to be envisioned. However, other sensor technologies or radar systems using different frequencies may take over parts of this huge market, which amounts to about 1 million sensors per annum for trucks in Europe alone.” (4)

China and Japan have also taken the autonomous driving route. China carried out a test with a driverless car that drove over a distance of 286 km from Changsha to Wuhan. Unlike foreign unmanned vehicles relying on GPS information and digital information, this car used surround sensing systems and intelligent decision making to control the vehicle. This test was made within the context of the China Intelligent Vehicle Challenge that wants China to have the technologies for completed unmanned vehicles by 2015. In Japan, the Tokyo Institute of Technology chairs the autonomous driving initiatives with the input of various equipment manufacturers. The vehicle used utilizes a variety of technologies, including GPS, mm-wave radar, laser tracking and stereo cameras, to achieve autonomy. Also the European Commission is looking into new solutions. The 76 to 81 GHz radar bands could be used on a timeshared basis for identification and information exchange between closely operating cars. The use of even higher frequency bands than the 79 GHz range for automotive use (i.e. 122 GHz) is currently being investigated by the European Commission. It seems that automotive radars frequencies will remain on the agenda for a considerable time to come.