U.S. Air Force Funds Modifications of Automotive Radar for Flying Cars
January 6, 2021
The U.S. Air Force has awarded a prime, Phase One contract to Metawave Corp. to provide a high-precision, all-weather sensing solution for electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The initial Metawave study outlined by the contract will identify modifications needed for the company’s existing “SPEKTRA” radar for aerial operations, which will be applied to the next generation of eTOL air vehicles.
The USAF Agility Prime initiative looks to advance the development of technologies for operational, human-rated eVTOL aircraft by 2023. In addition to traditional aerospace companies, the USAF is directly engaging with companies, such as Metawave, that can provide enabling technologies to advance the requirements of Agility Prime.
The SPEKTRA system is a compact analog antenna that provides the automotive industry with high-precision radar capabilities, accurate out to 330 meters. Current SPEKTRA analog radar design enables features for next-generation cars, including adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and automated emergency braking. Metawave said SPEKTRA is an excellent candidate for a rugged sensor system for future eVTOL aircraft, enabling precision eVTOL navigation and obstacle avoidance. The first phase of the effort will have Metawave, in partnership with the Arizona State University Center for Wireless Information Systems and Computational Architectures, modifying SPEKTRA radar for longer ranges and navigation in three-dimensional space.
“Both the automotive and eVTOL markets require the highest level of precision delivered by SPEKTRA,” said Maha Achour, CEO and founder of Metawave. “For both applications, the ability to reliably distinguish between several objects close together in all weather and light conditions is an important capability for all phases of transport, including flight. The most significant difference is the operational range of the radar.”
Additional details can be found through the Metawave website.