On unified vehicular communications and radar sensing in millimeter-wave and low terahertz bands
Future smart vehicles will incorporate high-data-rate communications and high-resolution radar sensing capabilities operating in the millimeter- wave and higher frequencies. These two systems are preparing to share and reuse many common functionalities, such as steerable millimeter- wave antenna arrays. Motivated by this growing overlap, which is advanced further by space and cost constraints, the vehicular community is pursuing a vision of unified vehicular communications and radar sensing that represents a major paradigm shift for next-generation connected and self-driving cars. This article outlines a path to materialize this decisive transformation. We begin by reviewing the latest developments in hybrid vehicular communications and radar systems, and then propose a concept of unified channel access over millimeter-wave and higher frequencies. Our supporting system-level performance characterization relies upon real-life measurements and extensive ray-based modeling to confirm the significant improvements brought by our proposal to mitigating the interference and deafness effects. Since our results aim to open the door to unified vehicular communications and radar sensing, we conclude by outlining the potential research directions in this rapidly developing field.