Japan-based Alps Alpine says it has acquired construction design certification for a 60GHz pulsed millimeter-wave sensor, in compliance with Japan’s radio law. The certification complies with amendments to the Japanese Radio Act permitting the use of 60GHz pulsed millimeter-wave sensors and is the first certification issued since the amendments were made in August.
The certification means that Alps Alpine is now able to mass-produce and distribute 60GHz pulsed millimeter-wave sensors within Japan’s domestic market. The company notes that its sensors have already been selected by overseas auto makers for use in applications such as tailgate kick sensors and detection of left-behind infants and delivery will begin as early as next year.
Millimeter-wave sensors are electronic components that emit radio signals of a frequency within the 30GHz–300GHz band and receive them reflected back off objects to determine the position, velocity, dynamic state and other parameters of those objects. In the automotive sphere, the sensors are expected to assist in the realization of autonomous driving functionality and contribute to safer, more comfortable mobility for vehicle occupants by helping to monitor driver status and other conditions inside the cabin.
Among the frequency bands, 60GHz offers the widest bandwidth, enabling high detection accuracy. It can also be used for a wide range of applications in countries all over the world given the low level of restrictions on its use (use of the 79GHz band in Europe and the USA, for example, is restricted to automotive sensing outside the vehicle). For these reasons, global demand for 60GHz millimeter-wave sensors is on the rise. Some countries and regions, such as Europe and the USA, legislated approval of the use of the 60GHz band for this purpose before Japan.
There are two types of millimeter-wave sensor: frequency-modulated continuous wave radar (FMCW) and pulsed. Due to the extent of the detectable range, FMCW millimeter-wave sensors have primarily been developed for detection applications on the vehicle exterior, helping enable autonomous driving functions. The pulsed type, while detectable range is short, achieves low power consumption and compact size, as well as good compatibility with other sensors, having low chance of interference, and tend to be favored for interior applications.
In Japan, use of the 60GHz band was approved under domestic radio legislation first for FMCW millimeter-wave sensors in January 2020. The effectiveness and potential for diverse application of the pulsed type was subsequently recognized and use of the band for pulsed millimeter-wave sensors was approved by amendments to the Radio Act on August 31, 2021.