LG Innotek said it had developed the claimed world’s best ‘in-cabin radar module.’

Thanks to the development of the product, the company would be able to secure an advantageous position in making inroads into the global automotive radar module market. The supplier said the radar would become mandatory in new vehicles in the US and Europe.

The module uses radio waves to detect the presence or movement of a living organism and can be used to prevent vehicle burglary or to prevent children from being left in the car alone. The product is made by mounting various components, including a radar chip, antenna, and communication chip on a printed circuit board. It is mainly installed on the car roof above the second row or near the mirror.

The demand for in-cabin sensors, including in-cabin radar modules, is on the rise. In Korea, installation of a safety device allowing to check if children have got out of the vehicle has become compulsory for all children transport minibuses. Europe plans to add a child presence detection test to its standards for new automobile sales starting 2023. The US is pursuing mandatory installation of child presence detection function starting 2025 to prevent parents from leaving their child alone in the car. This trend is also spreading fast to other countries.

Cabin radar modules stand out among different cabin sensors. A radar can penetrate obstacles such as clothes and blankets and detect the presence of a living organism. Since it uses radio waves, instead of images, to detect a person, it is free from privacy infringement issues. Also, unlike pressure sensors and ultrasonic sensors, radar modules have strengths in that they don’t need multiple sensors to function and have high sensitivity.

Radar modules are also useful for self-driving cars. They can play different roles, such as checking the fastening of seat belts and notifying passengers of get-off times, on behalf of the driver. That is the reason why global car manufacturers and automobile parts suppliers are actively considering the adoption of in-cabin radar modules.

Highest resolution

LG Innotek’s cabin radar modules have increased the resolution (the ability to distinguish objects close to each other) by approx. 40% compared to existing products, securing the claimed world’s highest level of precision. Also, the module’s signal processing time has been reduced by approx. 30%, enabling faster detection of objects.

For such performance improvements, LG Innotek applied a proprietary antenna design technology and a weak signal detection algorithm (which filters noise and uses only valid signals) that the company had developed so far in the vehicle communication field.

The company used digital transformation (DX) technology to optimise the antenna layout, achieving antenna performance 1.3 times higher than before with the same number of antennas. Also, the company minimised signal detection errors and developed its own software that increased the sensitivity to weak signals, improving the product’s precision further.

Install anywhere

Another advantage of this in-cabin radar module is that it can be installed anywhere inside a car. By changing the antenna design a little, the company can produce a module that can be installed in the location that the customer wants. Existing products had difficulty in changing the radio wave direction and could only be installed in designated locations such as the car roof above the second row and the room mirror.

Prevent children from being left alone

LG Innotek’s in-cabin radar module can detect the location and number of all passengers in the car and their vital signs and movements. Currently other commercialised products can only detect the presence of living organisms, such as people and pets, on the second-row seats.

This new product can prevent vehicle burglary or prevent children from being left in the car alone, since its high level of precision can even detect weak breaths of a three months old infant. If the child is left alone, a notification is immediately sent to the driver.

Set airbags

The product increases passenger safety for it helps with customising airbag settings. It identifies a passenger’s position and body size and then customises the airbag settings by adjusting the pressure according to whether the person is an adult or a child.

The module can also be used as a burglar alarm. If anyone is left in the car or if the module detects suspicious movements inside or near the car, it can notify the car owner by smartphone alarm or alert.

The product also provides functions that are necessary for autonomous driving without a driver. Various functions can be implemented with the product, such as starting a car only when all passengers have worn seat belts and vibrating the seat to wake up a passenger when he/she fell asleep and does not get off at the destination.

The company will add more functions so people can control various vehicle functions, such as setting the in-cabin temperature and adjusting the music volume, using only gestures like hand movements.

LG Innotek plans to commercialise the product by 2024 and has actively carried out product promotions targeting global car manufacturers and automobile parts suppliers in South Korea as well as the US, Europe, and Japan.

Rising demand

According to Yole Development and Fuji Chimera, market research firms, the market for global vehicle radar modules will grow by 11% every year from US$1.1 billion in 2020 to US 17 billion in 2040. The demand for in-cabin radar modules is expected to increase fast by 37% every year from 150,000 units in 2020 to 87,000,000 units in 2040.