Radar Traffic Sensor


One way our system engineering capabilities are illustrated is through the successful design and deployment of this Radar Traffic Sensor system. The system was required to measure the position and velocity of vehicles approaching an intersection. This information was then sent over a high-speed, real-time communications link to a traffic control system that used the data to help manage traffic flow.

The radar traffic sensor used the position and velocity data it measured along with the state of the intersection lights to predict when an approaching vehicle would run a red light. When an imminent red-light running condition was detected, the radar traffic sensor system would notify the intersection signal controller. The signal controller could then hold the traffic signals red in all directions until the vehicle cleared the intersection, thereby avoiding an accident. Executing this project required us to bring together a wide array of disciplines including:

  • RF Design
  • System Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Communication System Design
  • Mechanical Design

For a system this complex, an analytical model is needed to determine the level of performance required for each element in the system. In this case, the radiated power required from the radar transmitter, the receiver’s sensitivity, and the digitizer’s sampling rate are all parameters that are critical to the overall performance of the system. Only after these parameters are established can the individual elements of the system be designed and tested. Once the system is deployed, its performance is checked against the model’s prediction.

The video link below illustrates the successful execution of this project. In it, a vehicle is approaching the intersection (at night) at a very high rate of speed (shown on the overlay). The system detects the vehicle at the edge of its range and, given the state of the intersection, predicts a potential red light runner. It shortly thereafter tells the intersection to hold the traffic signals in the all-red state. Play the video below and see if the light is run!