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12 January, 2021 - 11:52 By Tony Quested

Key Cambridge role in autonomous landscape arena

Cambridge based R4DAR Technologies, a disruptive technology start-up in the autonomous landscape, has secured £74k in SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) funding for a major new initiative.

The money comes from the Geospatial Transport Innovation Competition to study the feasibility of delivering a cutting-edge locational data solution for widescale use in shared transport networks, smart city and smart mobility applications.

Transport has been identified by as one of nine key geospatial data opportunities and the Commission, in partnership with Innovate UK, introduced a £2m Small Business Initiative Transport Location Data Competition to accelerate the development of novel technologies to overcome the limitations associated with current smart transport systems.

R4DAR Technologies is one of the 28 competition winners chosen from a pool of 195 applications.

With support from Oxfordshire County Council and the Satellite Applications Catapult, R4DAR will be assessing the feasibility of deploying its low-cost radar identification beacons, (developed originally to enhance advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)), to augment the fidelity of geospatial data captured by urban traffic management & control (UTMC) systems, smart motorways and Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies, regardless of the weather or light conditions.

The shortcoming of existing traffic/pedestrian management solutions is their restricted object identification capabilities, particularly in low light or poor weather conditions caused fog, snow and rain.

This limitation poses significant safety concerns, especially for cyclists, pedestrians and e-scooter riders, whose concerns about not being clearly visible to larger vehicles is a major barrier to the widescale adoption of healthier and greener modes of transport.

R4DAR’s unique solution overcomes these concerns by accurately communicating the location, identity, and status of different road user types to vehicles or traffic management infrastructure equipped with radar. This is done through a simple data exchange between the radar and identification beacon mounted to a vehicle, bicycle, e-scooter or roadside infrastructure. 

The radar and beacon innovation works independent of existing comms infrastructure, 5G or GNSS, for example, making it suitable for rural as well as urban applications. 

Moreover, the system can distinguish different ‘road-user types’ – e.g., cars, maintenance vehicles, roadside workers – for accurate, real-time decision making.

Clem Robertson, founder and CEO of R4DAR, said: “Early unequivocal detection and identification of obstacles and hazards on roads and motorways is the single biggest challenge for current and future intelligent transport systems.

“Being part of the SBRI Geospatial project will allow us to assess the potential of using our low-cost and low maintenance radar and beacons to provide the high fidelity localised real-time geospatial data that will be essential for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure. 

“I see this capability as a fundamental element to the wider-scale adoption of bicycles, e-scooters or walking as the preferred form of transport in complex shared transport environments.”

R4DAR is already working on a collaboration project with Oxfordshire County Council and the SA Catapult to exploit its innovation on UAVs operation beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and has a number of other exciting collaborations in the pipeline.

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