Infineon Researcher Michael Gerstmair Honored with JKU "Young Researchers' Award

Infineon Researcher Michael Gerstmair Honored with JKU "Researchers' Award. Doctoral thesis on imaging radar sensors makes future mobility even safer. Michael Gerstmair also makes his research work tangible for young talents in a playful way with miniature cars and trains.

Jul 5, 2022 | Business & Financial Press

Linz, July 5, 2022 - Michael Gerstmair's research work at the Institute of Signal Processing at Johannes Kepler University Linz focused on imaging radar sensors to detect and localize the position of road users very precisely and reliably. This can be used to further increase safety when driving. The "Young Researcher" award ceremony took place at the end of June at the JKU in Linz. A total of 30 young scientists from various disciplines (technology and natural sciences, economics and social sciences, and medicine) were honored.

Burkhard Neurauter, Senior Director Radar Product & Test Engineering at Infineon in Linz: "After the Upper Austrian State Prize for Innovation 2021 and the Traffic Safety Prize 2021, this is another excellent award for this forward-looking research topic. Our 77GHz radar chips for safe and autonomous mobility are in use worldwide. We want to and can offer ideal working and research conditions to enable top performances like this. Congratulations Michael!"

Michael Gerstmair, award-winning doctoral student at JKU and Radar Concept and System Engineer at Infineon in Linz: "I am very pleased to receive this award, firstly because it makes driving safer, and secondly because our know-how is in demand worldwide. Imaging radar systems are capable of determining the position of an object very precisely, even in fog, backlighting or other optical limitations. The research work makes driving even safer."

Radar systems help with driving

Radar sensors are ubiquitous as driving assistance systems in modern mobility and are already standard in many vehicle models. Cars with these radar chips automatically detect how far away the next vehicle is, whether the automatic emergency braking system should be activated, or they help when parking in narrow spaces. With each sensor and algorithm, the assistance systems in the car become more powerful and mobility safer. The goal is to combine enough radar, lidar, ultrasound and camera sensors into a sensor cocoon to make autonomous and safe driving possible.

Radar systems help with driving

Radar sensors are ubiquitous as driving assistance systems in modern mobility and are already standard in many vehicle models. Cars with these radar chips automatically detect how far away the next vehicle is, whether the automatic emergency braking system should be activated, or they help when parking in narrow spaces. With each sensor and algorithm, the assistance systems in the car become more powerful and mobility safer. The goal is to combine enough radar, lidar, ultrasound and camera sensors into a sensor cocoon to make autonomous and safe driving possible.       

Radar technology has the advantage of measuring reliably even in a wide range of weather conditions. The radar chips measure speed and distance by emitting an electromagnetic signal, similar to a radio or wireless signal only in the higher frequency range of 77GHz. The distance to an object is then determined in seconds from the returning reflections and the travel time of the signal. By analyzing the Doppler shift, the speed can be measured. Several antennas built into the chip detect the angle and thus the exact direction to the object.

Imaging radar systems for the next sensor generation

Imaging radar systems are the next step for new sensor generations. With them, resolution - and thus accuracy - is significantly improved. This involves connecting many radar chips together and multiplying the number of antennas that pick up the reflections. This creates a database for more comprehensive evaluations. Michael Gerstmair devotes his dissertation to precisely this task and the special phenomenon of phase noise.

Gerstmair: "In imaging radar systems, one of the interconnected chips generates a transmit signal in order to distribute it to the other chips. A point cloud is calculated that precisely locates surrounding objects. In this way, the position of an object in space can be determined much more precisely. Unlike technologies such as stereo cameras, this works even in fog, backlighting or other optical limitations."

Another topic in his dissertation: the problem of phase noise. Namely, every transmitted signal introduces a certain amount of phase noise, which in turn reduces performance. A special control system was therefore developed in the dissertation. It immediately detects whether there is a drop in performance in the chip. A mathematical procedure is used to compare the power spectral density of all chips when the system is started. Two signals are used for this purpose and then all chip combinations are calculated. If there is a faulty signal source on an emitting chip, it is detected immediately. No other hardware components are required. The test system runs on the microcontroller that organizes the signal evaluation of the radar system.                       

Explaining radar technology in a playful way

In addition to working on radar components for safe driving, Michael Gerstmair also wants to get schoolchildren and students excited about the technology.  Together with other young scientists and in workshops with HTL students, he has developed miniature trains and cars with radar chips. It is a "hands-on experience model" that conveys sensor technology in an exciting and simple way.

With this toy train, the students* learn step by step how to make the train run, how to integrate a radar signal and how to make the locomotive stop automatically in case of obstacles. The train is controlled by a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, and the energy is supplied by a battery integrated in the wagon. Projects with the university of applied sciences are also underway. These involve equipping remote-controlled cars with radar, lidar and ultrasonic sensors, and even using artificial intelligence to analyze the data to let the vehicles recognize their surroundings. Most recently, he was able to present the system to a wide audience at the Long Night of Research 2022 at the Infineon site in Linz - and also to inspire many of them in the long term. 

About Infineon in Linz

The development center in Linz was established in 1999 as a spin-off from Johannes Kepler University. Infineon Austria joined as majority owner in 2000 and has been the sole owner of Infineon Technologies Linz GmbH & Co KG (formerly DICE) since 2019. Since its founding, the site with 180 employees from 28 nations has developed into a global competence center for high-frequency technologies within the Infineon Group with world-leading expertise in radar chips for driver assistance systems. Another development focus of the Linz team is high-frequency components for mobile telephony and navigation applications, such as antenna switches and receiver amplifiers, which help terminals achieve very high data rates even under unfavorable reception conditions. These products can be found in almost every smartphone, tablet and navigation system.  

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About Infineon Austria

Infineon Technologies Austria AG is a group subsidiary of Infineon Technologies AG, a world-leading provider of semiconductor solutions that make life easier, safer and greener. Microelectronics from Infineon reduce the energy consumption of consumer electronics, domestic appliances and industrial facilities. They make a major contribution to the convenience, security and sustainability of vehicles, and enable secure transactions in the Internet of Things.

Infineon Austria pools competencies for research and development, production as well as global business responsibility. The head office is in Villach, with further branches in Graz, Klagenfurt, Linz and Vienna. With 4,820 employees from 73 countries (including 2,100 in research and development), in the financial year 2021 (ending in September) the company achieved a turnover of € 3.9 billion. With a research expenditure of 516 million euros, Infineon Austria is one of the strongest research companies in Austria.

Press Photos

  • Award ceremony from left to right: Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences o.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kurt Schlacher, award winner Michael Gerstmair as well as Burkhard Neurauter (both Infineon) ©JKU/Hamm
    Award ceremony from left to right: Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences o.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kurt Schlacher, award winner Michael Gerstmair as well as Burkhard Neurauter (both Infineon) ©JKU/Hamm
    JKU-Award-2022

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  • Michael Gerstmair at the mini-train with Radarchips ©Infineon
    Michael Gerstmair at the mini-train with Radarchips ©Infineon
    Infineon_Linz_Michael-Gerstmair

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