MINIATURE RADAR TECHNOLOGY FROM NORWAY HAS UAS APPLICATIONS
14 Nov 13. Mine clearing, monitoring of vital signs and robot vision are among the many potential applications for Novelda’s innovative radar technology. The company’s tiny, unique processor chips are at the core of it all. Novelda’s hard-earned success began with a project on fundamental radar technology using principles developed at the University of Oslo. With the knowledge acquired, the Norwegian company has developed chips that are extremely fast, highly precise, run on very low power, and can be placed directly onto objects rather than metres away – qualities that are making Novelda stand out on the global market.
The company is now launching its new generation of impulse-based radar chips with ultra-high resolution.
Long-term investment leads to commercial products
Novelda’s radar technology can be applied to product development within a wide variety of sensor application areas. It has taken a lot of effort to transform the start-up from 2004 into the cutting-edge technology leader it is today.
“Much about our technology is completely new, and it takes lots of long-term planning and methodical work to develop attractive commercial products based on this technology,” explains Alf-Egil Bogen, CEO of Novelda AS. “The funding we have received all along the way under the Research Council of Norway’s programmes has in turn triggered private investment. This combined funding has been critical, providing us with opportunities we otherwise never would have had for carrying out the necessary R&D.”
The Research Council’s programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA) has provided funding support for three Novelda projects.
“The first of our projects with funding under the BIA programme ran from 2006 to 2008 and focused on the fundamental radar technology,” recounts Dag T. Wisland, president and co-founder of the company. “Only now have the results truly come together, and we are launching our first proprietary commercial sensor. This illustrates how crucial it is to take a long-term approach when bringing such a
new technology to the commercial market.”
In addition to the BIA programme, Novelda has also received support from the Research Council’s large-scale programme on Core Competence and Value Creation in ICT (VERDIKT) and the EU Commission under EUREKA’s R&D programme, Eurostars.
Practical uses for Novelda technology
Customers all around the world are using Novelda’s technology to develop applications such as measuring asphalt thickness and snow depth. Another example is the collaboration between Novelda and Samsung Thales launched in April to develop a landmine detector mounted on vehicles. Tests so far are very promising.
“It’s very gratifying for us at Novelda to supply technology that can help to save lives by finding landmines,” says Mr Bogen.
Through projects like these,” adds company CMO Aage Kalsæg, “we learn about new kinds of application areas, and at the same time our partners learn about our technology and how it can be used to develop other applications. That combination opens a lot of exciting doors.”
Potential medical applications
There is also widespread use for Novelda’s radar transceivers in the health care sector, where they can be used in applications such as monitoring heart rate, taking wireless ECG readings, and measuring fluid in the lungs. These were targeted in the company’s second BIA-funded project, which ran from 2009 to 2011 and included cooperation with the University of Oslo.
“We get lots of attention from cardiologists who are amazed by what we can do with our radar technology,” says CEO Bogen. “Health care is one of the areas with the greatest potential for us, but this is where it takes the most time and effort to come out with a finished, profitable product. We are in the process of working out a business plan and looking at various medical projects to go forward with.”