Nio wants to improve road safety by using new 4D radar

Max McDee, 03 May 2023

Nio signed a contract with Dutch company NXP Semiconductors to use their latest 4D imaging radar technology. The 4D radar significantly improves the performance of current tech and adds functionality as it can accurately measure distance, speed, angle, and elevation even in limited visibility scenarios.

This new solution will allow Nio vehicles to “see” up to 300 meters ahead, the cars will be able to detect other vehicles and safely classify them even recognizing vulnerable road users. Complex situations such as city driving or high-speed highways are no longer an issue for this new technology, according to Nio and NXP.

NXP 4D radar improves car's ability to recognize its environment NXP 4D radar improves car's ability to recognize its environment

The improved resolution from the industry’s first 16 nm radar processor allows the car to not just recognize large objects but thanks to its fine resolution point-cloud can distinguish a bicycle riding close to a large truck, it can see a child standing behind a parked car and it can do all that in any weather conditions. At the same time, the new radar can precisely measure the speed of any object within the 300 m distance, its angle of approach, and elevation.

NXP’s 4D radar is the first such solution to be able to perform 3-in-1 multi-mode sensing through short, mid-, and long-range operations. Together with auxiliary components, the 4D radar supports autonomous driving all the way up to Level 5. It actually supersedes the high-definition LiDAR sensors, it overcomes their limitations, and is apparently cheaper.

While Tesla is focusing on vision-based autonomous driving technology, the rest of the automotive field has been using LiDAR to supplement camera vision. 4D radar technology builds on mm-wave radars and is more accurate than LiDAR but less complex and when mass-produced, it is more cost-effective.

Autonomous driving is inevitable Autonomous driving is inevitable

NXP is not the first company that Nio is going to buy 4D imaging technology from. Only a couple of weeks ago, Chinese 4D imaging manufacturer SinPro announced it has closed the A founding round with Nio and Xiaomi committing the biggest investment.

Which approach is better - Tesla’s vision-only or high-tech 4D and LiDAR augmented? Tesla is trying to keep things simple, arguing that people have been driving for a hundred years using only their eyes. While LiDAR has its limitations and it can be expensive, 4D imaging seems to be addressing all those issues. What’s better - to make the most of the technology or to perfect the old tech? Time will tell soon enough.



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