RF “Barcode” Advances Smart Transportation Infrastructure

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021


Smart cars may soon get a boost from smart infrastructure thanks to an intelligent reconfigurable surface developed by CWC researchers that acts like a scannable barcode to communicate with automotive radar and assist self-driving vehicles for better safety. 


Modern autonomous vehicles are commonly instrumented with radars for all-weather perception. Yet the radar functionality is limited to identifying the positions of reflectors in the environment. A project headed by Associate Professor Xinyu Zhang is investigating the feasibility of smartening transportation infrastructure for the purpose of conveying richer information to automotive radars.  Zhang’s team has developed a retroreflective radar readable road sign (RoS), a passive PCB-fabricated surface that can be reconfigured to embed digital bits and inform radar much the way visual road signs inform cameras. RoS signage is designed to act as a retrodirective reflector, which can reflect signals back to the radar from wide viewing angles. Zhang’s team further introduced a spatial encoding scheme that piggybacks information in the reflected analog signals based on the geometrical layout of the retroreflective elements. Initial prototype fabrication and experimentation verified the effectiveness of RoS as an RF “barcode'' that is readable by radar in practical transportation environments. The results of this innovative new work will appear in ACM SIGCOMM 2021 Conference (SIGCOMM ’21), August 23–27, 2021.