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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L019078/1
Title: Terahertz Technology for Future Road Vehicles
Principal Investigator: Gardner, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Lancaster, Professor M Gashinova, Professor M Cherniakov, Professor M
Feresidis, Dr A Constantinou, Professor CC
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr E G Hoare
Project Partners:
BAE Systems Elite Antennas Ltd Jaguar Land Rover Limited
L-3 TRL Technology Thales Ltd
Department: Electronic, Electrical and Computer Eng
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 June 2014 Ends: 31 December 2018 Value (£): 1,201,332
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 Feb 2014 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Feb 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This programme will lay the scientific foundations for a new generation of sensor systems that will be mounted in vehicles to enhance the safety and efficiency. The sensors, small enough to be mounted unobtrusively on vehicles, will allow high resolution images to be produced in real time, that can be read and interpreted by intelligent vehicle systems to determine appropriate actions in hazardous circumstances and to dynamically control the vehicle to reduce fuel consumption. Sharing the images, or the information obtained from them, with the infrastructure and with other vehicles, will also make it possible to enhance safety and efficiency collectively within whole cohorts of vehicles. Sensors based on this technology will impact on future integrated automotive transport systems, supporting an intelligent transport philosophy with efficient use of renewable energy sources, low carbon emissions and enhanced safety for all road users.

The new sensors will exploit the technology of circuits and devices in the 0.3 THz to 1 THz frequency range. Although this range, falling in between the upper end of the radio spectrum and the lower end of the infra-red, is currently not widely used, the device and circuit technology will mature over the next decade. There are several potential advantages in the use of this frequency band, as opposed to the lower frequency microwave and mm-wave bands or the infra-red and optical bands. The antennas required in the low THz band are smaller than those in the microwave and mm-wave bands, in proportion to the wavelength. The image resolution achievable is improved. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, narrower beams can be produced while using reasonably small antennas, when the wavelength is so short (less than 1 mm). Secondly, the high bandwidths available when using such high frequencies make it possible to distinguish between more closely spaced features in the reflected signal. At the same time, waves in this band are not susceptible to complete obscuration by road dirt or precipitation, as infra-red and optical systems would be.

Before and during this work, there will be a strong focus on vehicle system applications, with input from automotive industry experts, to identify the specific requirements of future vehicle systems.

To generate the required images, low THz waves must be transmitted from the vehicle, propagate through the surrounding environment and be scattered from objects and surfaces. Scattered waves propagating back to the vehicle and received by the sensor antenna provide the information required to form an image. The main research work activities in this project all relate to these physical aspects of the imaging systems. Firstly, the properties of the road environment will be determined to find the specific frequency windows in which low THz signals can propagate through air, precipitation, vehicle exhaust gases, road spray and airborne particles such as dirt and grit. This will involve a combination of measurements in controlled, enclosed artificial environments created in the laboratory, and real road trials. Then, the scattering properties of typical road scenes and surfaces will be analysed to determine the most appropriate frequencies and waveforms to use for imaging.

A major part of the research will involve the study of the antennas and beamforming networks that will be required to implement low THz imaging systems on vehicles. Working at the boundary between the radio frequency spectrum and the optical spectrum provides opportunities to exploit and merge transmitter concepts based on both lenses and antennas. The system requirements will be studied to arrive at recommendations for transmitter and receiver architectures that could be realised using the emerging circuit and device technologies.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk