Virtual Radar: Real-Time Millimeter-Wave Radar Sensor Simulation for Perception-Driven Robotics

Publication from Robotics

Christian Schöffmann, Barnaba Ubezio , Christoph Böhm, Stephan Mühlbacher-Karrer , Hubert Zangl

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 4704-4711 , 3/2021


This article presents ViRa1, a real-time open-source millimeter-wave radar simulation framework for perceptiondriven robotic applications. ViRa provides raw data of radar sensors in real-time, simulation of multi-antenna configurations for spatial estimation of objects, wave penetration of non-conductive objects to infer information in occluded situations, different radar beam patterns, and, configurations of radar sensors as given by real-world radars. By using ViRa, researchers can simulate radar sensors in different robotic scenarios and investigate radars prior to the installation. This allows an acceleration in the development of radar sensors for robotic applications without the need of real hardware. Contrary to simple model abstractions, which only output loose features, ViRagenerates rawradar data using computer graphics techniques on graphics processing unit (GPU) level embedded inside a game engine environment. ViRa allows to feed data directly into machine learning frameworks, which enables further improvement in novel research directions, such as safe human-robot interaction or agile drone flights in obstacle-rich environments. The proposed simulation framework is validated with data from different scenarios in robotics such as human tracking for human-robot interaction. The obtained results are compared with a reference simulation framework and show significantly higher correlation when compared to real-world measurement data.


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Keywords: Range sensing, simulation, animation