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Researchers at the UPNA-Public University of Navarre are currently working on the Peatones (Pedestrians) project that aims to develop new systems to protect pedestrians against frontal impact if they are about to be knocked down. A consortium co-ordinated by the company Maier Navarra has been set up for the purpose; L’Urederra Foundation and the UPNA are participating in it. The total cost of the project amounts to 1.27 million euros of which 575,000 has been provided by the Government of Navarre.

Over 40% of the accidents that occur in urban areas involve people being knocked down and sustaining dangerous impacts, mainly caused by vehicles driving at speeds of less than 40 km per hour. To reduce these figures, the consortium of companies and institutions will be leading different parts of the Peatones project. Specifically, the team of researchers of the Public University of Navarre will be responsible for the heat detection system: radar detectors that are capable firstly of warning of a possible collision, and secondly, of alerting the presence of pedestrians in the vehicle's path, so that appropriate action can then be taken by applying the vehicle's brakes, for example.

As Ramón Gonzalo García, Professor of the UPNA’s Department of Electric and Electronic Engineering and member of the Antenas research group, explains: “We will be responsible for developing the antenna of the radar system and for mounting it onto the vehicle’s front grille in such a way that we can minimize any electromagnetic interference that could arise, while maintaining radar performance.” The radar scans and does a sweep at the front of the vehicle to detect the presence of people. “You can spot whether it is a person, a dog or a lamppost, to give some examples, because when the signal is sent, you get a different bounce; with the antenna it is possible to distinguish the amount of signal you receive."

Today, there are radar systems for a range of objectives. In vehicles, in fact, radars have already been fitted to detect the presence of other vehicles and monitor the safe distance. Basically, two standards are being worked on: radars with a frequency of between 27 and 77 gigahertz, the latter having the greatest range and sensitivity. But what is more, there are also two possibilities within this second type: broad band and narrow band. "The broad band one is the one that has not been developed, and that is the one we are working on. Technologically, it is a more complex radar with even greater range and sensitivity, and sensitivity is very important when being able to distinguish objects,” explains Professor Gonzalo Garcia.

The University’s team of researchers working on the Peatones project is made up of Ramón Gonzalo, Iñigo Ederra, Jorge Teniente, Amagoia Telletxea and Belén Larumbe. They have been tasked with designing the radar system and incorporating it into the grille of the vehicle. The information is then processed in order to act on global safety, be it by applying the brakes of the vehicle, moving the steering wheel, etc. but this part is outside the scope of the current project.

* Elhuyar translation, published in