Objective This technical paper aims to explore the role of radomes in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) vehicles, particularly in terms of their contribution to both function and aesthetics. Radomes, which are protective covers that enclose radar antennas, have traditionally been viewed as purely bi-functional (mechanics and radar transparent) components that shield radar equipment from harsh weather conditions and other environmental factors. However, with the increasing demand for ADAS vehicles that are both safe and visually appealing, the aesthetics of radomes have become increasingly important. This paper will examine the various design considerations that are involved in creating radomes that are both functional in several domains and aesthetically pleasing, as well as the impact that radome design can have on the overall performance of ADAS systems. Methodology History, evolution, and current state of radomes in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) vehicles will be explored, with focusing on their different functions and performance requirements. The paper will begin by examining the historical development of radomes, tracing their evolution from simple protective covers to the complex multi-functional components used in modern ADAS vehicles. Then, it will analyze the current status of radomes in terms of their different functions, such as weather protection, radiofrequency performance, and aesthetics. The paper will also identify the future demands and challenges that are likely to shape the development of radomes in the coming years. Overall, this paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of radomes in ADAS vehicles, highlighting their multifaceted role and importance in the design and performance of modern automotive systems. Results The results demonstrate the multi-functional role of automotive radomes in modern vehicle design. The analysis of radome aesthetics highlights the increasing importance of these components in enhancing the appearance of vehicles, and how modern radome designs now enable 2D and 3D appearances, multiple complex decorations, and a range of body color palettes. The examination of radome heating and illumination performance reveals how these features enhance the functionality of advanced driver assistance systems. Advanced heating technologies integrated into radomes extend sensor availability, particularly in adverse weather conditions, which is a key requirement for higher levels of autonomous driving. Similarly, illumination integrated into radomes provides seamless side-to-side integration and vehicle visibility, as well as expanding brand recognition at night time. Finally, the analysis of radiofrequency key performance indicators (KPIs) shows the improvement evolution of radome designs, enabling more accurate and robust detections, which is critical for reliable ADAS operation. Limitations The content is focused on front-looking radar sensors, and does not consider corner radar sensors. Corner radar sensors are commonly used in advanced driver assistance systems to provide additional coverage around the vehicle and help detect objects in blind spots, but the case analysis for these sensors is not considered here. Also, the paper's analysis is not exhaustive given information was only available from a few radar sensor suppliers, and this may not be representative of the entire market. However, the paper's results still provide valuable insights into the design and performance of radomes in advanced driver assistance systems and highlight the importance of these components in achieving optimal performance and appearance in modern automotive systems. Conclusions In conclusion, this technical paper has demonstrated the critical role of radomes in achieving the optimal balance between form and function in ADAS for vehicles. The increasing importance of aesthetics in modern automotive design has led to the development of radomes that not only provide mechanical protection and radar transparency, but also contribute to the overall appearance of vehicles. The integration of radar sensors into radomes has become increasingly important in the era of autonomous driving, where accurate and reliable sensor performance is essential for safe and efficient vehicle operation.
Dr. Benjamín Izquierdo, Electromagnetics & Electro-Optics Innovation Leader, ZANINI AUTO GRUP S.A.