Tier 1 supplier Adac Automotive Inc. and Ainstein Inc., a Lawrence, Kan.-based startup specializing in smart radar systems and other advanced sensing technologies, have formalized a joint venture, Radac, to design, develop and manufacture millimeter-wave radar-based sensing products.
Radac Automotive will operate independently as a radar technology Tier 1 supplier and has been working on proximity access, object and blind spot detection automotive projects.
Previously announced in 2020, the formalization took "longer to put in place than anticipated because we were trying to set a good legal foundation," Jack Prince, chief business development officer at Radac, told Plastics News. "The best part is, the entire time we've had a solid business alignment."
Since its announcement last year, Radac combined two functions of its proximity access technology, using the same hardware to use a new "gesture to gain access to the vehicle," Prince said.
Originally approached with a wave, the sensing technology in a molded part on the tailgate of a vehicle opens the liftgate automatically when it registers the action, he said.
"What we discovered through clinics and through development is the best way to have reliable and seamless entry is to step into a zone and step back out of the zone," Prince said. "You're carrying something heavy, you walk up to the tailgate of your vehicle, and you deliberately step back out … and the vehicle actuates the liftgate for you.
"We've improved upon that so its purposeful body position … becomes more seamless for access for the consumer," he said. "As the product matures, that could be something selectable by the end-item consumer," or added as a trim level for the technology by the OEM.
The technology could also exist in any cosmetic product on the rear or side of the vehicle, Prince added.
Radac expects to do well in the ultrashort range radar market and also has "a lot to offer in blind spot detection, adaptive cruise and imaging radar," he said. "We have products that cover the ADAS [advanced driver-assistance systems] spectrum."
Adac, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is excited about its partnership with Ainstein, Prince said, which has technologies "implemented in fields other than automotive that [Radac] can share to strengthen our overall product line" and eventually offer more products beyond the ultrashort range radar.
"It's difficult for OEMs to try to put together different components and technologies within the vehicle," he said. "There's always different purchasing and engineering groups. One will have the radar aspects, then another will be working on the cosmetic parts … and they're all separate. … We can draw all that together with our combined capabilities."
Radac will develop new "uses for radar technology that have multiple functional and practical use not yet applied in passenger vehicles," Jeff Dolbee, Adac Automotive president, said in a Sept. 9 news release. "Adac and Ainstein will combine our unique expertise and strengths to develop the most advanced mechatronic solutions for the vehicles of today, tomorrow and beyond."
"The automotive industry is embracing a new era of technology which focuses on combining autonomy, safety and convenience into one simple package. Most of these features are enabled by new sensing technology," Zongbo Wang, CEO and founder of Ainstein AI, said in the release. "We're proud to be part of these new opportunities that offer a better sensing experience and higher level of intelligence."