Toyota wants US to relax car radar system rules

Toyota wants to develop new car safety applications.

Looking to develop new applications and enhance vehicle safety systems, Toyota has asked the Federal Communications Commission to change the rules regarding vehicular radar systems operating in the 76-77 GHz band.

Specifically, Toyota says it wants to eliminate the requirement that vehicular radars decrease power when the vehicle on which the radar is mounted is stopped, or not in motion. Car radar systems include collision warning, blind spot detection, lane change assist and parking aid systems.

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According to a posting in the Federal Register, the existing separate in- and not-in-motion emission limits were adopted to prevent unnecessary and prolonged harmful human exposure to radio frequency radiation. "The motion status of the vehicle was given special consideration due the fact that vehicles that are not in motion could result in human exposure to radiation for longer time durations than a moving vehicle. However, because the proposed emission limit of 88 μW/cm is below the current average threshold limit of 1 mW/cm adopted for human exposure to RF radiation, the in-motion and not-in-motion criteria become unnecessary for safety purposes," the FCC states.

The FCC said it proposes to modify its rules to increase the average power density limit to 50 dBm (88 μW/cm at 3 m) and decrease the peak power density limit to 55 dBm (279 μW/cm at 3m) for vehicular radar systems regardless of the illumination direction of the vehicular radar system. The proposed emission limits would extend to vehicular radar systems illuminating in any of the mentioned directions (forward, rear or side). This action would make the rules governing the vehicular radar emission limit in United States to be more comparable to those set forth outside the United States and therefore benefit the automotive industry in terms of new product development and cost reduction, the FCC stated.

The FCC went on to say that some concerns about electronic interference, particularly with GPS systems have been raised but the commission said "the peak limit recommended by Toyota is lower than the current peak limit."

"This reduced limit will increase the level of interference protection afforded to Radio Astronomy (RAS) [The 76-77 GHz band is allocated to the RAS and Radiolocation Services on a primary basis] systems and other authorized users of the 76-77 GHz band. The Commission agrees with TMC's assessment that there is very little likelihood that vehicular radar systems operating at either the current or proposed limits would cause harmful interference to radio astronomy equipment. Accordingly, the Commission believes that there is no need to restrict vehicular radar systems based on coordination zones or to impose requirements for a GPS-aware automatic cut-off switch as proposed by National Radio Astronomy Observatory."

 The proposal to change the rules actually stems from a 2009 request by Toyota.  And The FCC now wants to get more public comment on the subject.  So if you have an opinion, go here.

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