Department for Transport awards Plextek funding for smart vehicle tagging solution


Design and innovation consultancy, Plextek has been awarded funding by the Department for Transport (DfT) for development of a novel vehicle tagging solution for intelligent and autonomous vehicle systems.

Funded by DfT’s Transport Technology Research Innovation Grants (T-TRIG), Plextek have set out to develop a proof of concept demonstrator for a small, low-cost and ultra-low-power tag that bounces back automotive radar signals with a unique coded signature.

When this signature is detected it allows automotive radars to uniquely identify and locate objects – addressing a current challenge within the automotive sensor industry.

Chris Roff, Head of Sensor Systems, summarises the benefits:

In the future, these tags could be attached to vehicles (e.g. built into the number plate) or to roadside objects such as road signs. A unique aspect of our solution is that the tag’s power requirement is kept extremely low, which opens up a really broad range of use cases.

The tags could also allow vehicles to operate autonomously in complex environments with a higher level of confidence, in keeping with DfT’s aims for providing safe, secure and sustainable transport.”

This breakthrough in tagging technology extends the capability of standard automotive radars to allow them to uniquely identify a wide range of objects in their environment.

Information received by the radar can then be used for a number of applications including recognition of road signage and other infrastructure, identification of other road vehicles and supporting autonomous convoy operation. The technology could also be used in other transport domains, including the identification of drones and small aircraft, and the monitoring of small craft at sea in poor weather conditions.

Agnieszka Krysztul, Project Manager, concludes:

Our low-cost proof of concept embodiment has demonstrated technical feasibility and also given us a route for commercialisation in the automotive sector, where product cost will be paramount. We’re excited to be looking into these routes now so that we can share this capability within the industry.”

For more information about our work in industrial sensors, please visit our industrial sensors page.

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Plextek Services Limited (Plextek) is an independent innovation design consultancy, with the capability to execute a wide range of tasks including technology assessment; concept development & innovation; technology development & demonstration; equipment design; equipment manufacture, test & supply; equipment support & maintenance.