Automotive OTA Measurement Techniques and Challenges

Authors: Patrick Pelland, Daniël Janse van Rensburg, Mihai Berbeci, Fynn Ove Storjohann, Andreas Griesche, Jan-Peter Busch
Publication: AMTA 2020
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

Characterizing the performance of automobile-mounted antennas has been an ongoing and evolving challenge for the antenna measurement community. Today, the automotive test environment poses unique challenges with its diversity and complexity of wireless on-board systems and the large electrical size of the test article. The evolution of cellular technologies over the past decade means that the basic mobile handset has now become a smartphone with significantly increased capability; this exact same trend has been mirrored by the automotive industry where we have witnessed the basic car radio and cassette player evolve into a multi-function infotainment unit. Modern vehicles include a multitude of wireless technologies, including cellular (2G, 3G, LTE), Bluetooth, WiFi, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), collision avoidance radar, and more. Testing the complete vehicle is currently the only method available that certifies the correct mode of operation for each technology (including co-existence and interference) and also assures the manufacturer that the various sub-systems are performing as expected in the presence of all other sub-systems and the vehicle itself.

While modern vehicles now function like large mobile devices, the conventional Over-the-Air (OTA) measurement systems and techniques available for small form factor devices (e.g. mobile phones) are ill-suited to testing such large devices. In this paper, we will highlight some of the unique challenges encountered in the automotive test environment. We will start by looking into existing methods of measuring radiation patterns of automobile-mounted antennas and providing a qualitative assessment of the various techniques with a focus on near-field solutions. A brief description of OTA testing will follow, coupled with an in-depth look into how techniques that are proven for handset type OTA measurements are being translated to automotive measurements. This section will provide a breakdown of key OTA test metrics, the measurement hardware typically required and key assumptions about the device under test. Finally, some performance tradeoffs and challenges associated with designing a multi-purpose antenna/OTA measurement system will be described.

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