Navtech Radar and Oxford Robotics Institute to develop all-weather radar for AVs


Funded via a grant from the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, Oxfordshire-based Navtech Radar and the Oxford Robotics Institute (ORI) will carry out exciting research in the area of autonomous vehicle technology suitable for use in the UK.

Automated vehicles need to be able to operate in a variety of weather conditions that change rapidly. With the majority of current driverless cars operating in California, a state known for its perpetual blue skies, the need for accurate situational awareness in adverse weather conditions has been largely overlooked. The current sensors used cannot accurately function in heavy rain, snow or fog. Therefore, this research will be pivotal in ensuring autonomous vehicles (AVs) can perform in all environments and appeal to an international market.

The UK’s location means it has what is defined as a ‘temperate oceanic climate’, a classification it shares with most of northwest Europe, which means frequent changes in pressure and unsettled weather are typical, with many types of weather that can be experienced in a single day.

In collaboration with the ORI team at the University of Oxford, Navtech will develop a sensor for autonomous vehicles that will provide 360° high resolution coverage in all weather conditions. A world leading innovator and multi-award-winning designer and manufacturer of commercially deployed radar systems, Navtech’s ground-breaking technology is used by clients across many industry sectors, from perimeter security surveillance and industrial automation, to traffic incident detection.

The company’s products have earned a reputation for being high performance, robust and extremely reliable, as they are often used in mission-critical applications where safety and security are vital. Navtech’s experience in products for all-weather operations will significantly improve the capabilities and safety of the automated machines in difficult driving conditions, when safe and reliable transportation is most critical.

Professor Paul Newman from Oxford University’s ORI, noted, “If autonomous cars are to become commonplace, they need to work in all weathers, that’s a fact. Radar technology has the potential to do this in an affordable way, and we’re thrilled to be working with Navtech Radar to help make this a reality.”

Philip Avery, managing director of Navtech Radar, commented, “Research and development are a fundamental part of Navtech’s DNA. Investments such as this grant from Innovate UK are invaluable in fostering innovation and the creation of new products that meet customer requirements in the most effective, cost efficient way possible.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).