The Path Toward Truly Safe Hands-Free Driving

The combination of perception radar and cameras in the sensor suite will enable OEMs to make the leap to hands-free driving that is reliable, consistent and, of course, safe.

Kobi Marenko, CEO

March 21, 2024

2 Min Read
Ghosn driving hands-free 2017
Former Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn drives hands-free in 2017 photo.

The automotive industry is gearing up for a major shift toward hands-free driving. While current vehicles offer basic driver-assistance features such as lane-change assist, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, the future promises a true hands-off experience. However, the current sensor suite, relying mainly on cameras and low-resolution radar, simply doesn’t cut it. 

Today’s drivers are still required to keep their hands on the wheel in most situations. However, companies including BMW and Mercedes-Benz already offer limited hands-free options under specific conditions, and Chinese automakers also are pushing for more advanced features to gain a competitive edge in the market. Analysts predict 30% of new vehicles will boast hands-free capabilities within four years. The key hurdle? Building trust. Drivers need to have complete confidence in the system's reliability to truly relinquish control. Any misstep could shatter consumer confidence and stall progress.

The Role of Advanced Sensors

While crucial for providing data in challenging situations such as poor weather and long distances, current radars suffer from limitations. Their low-resolution struggle to accurately pinpoint smaller objects, detect the boundaries of vehicles and map free space, in addition to high false alarm rates due to few physical channels, hinder their effectiveness.

Likewise, cameras – despite their inherent resolution and color sensitivity – lack the ability to understand object materials and can be susceptible to weather and lighting variations. They may even require cleaning systems for volatile environments, highlighting the need for redundancy in the sensor suite. Additionally, optical sensors such as cameras and lidars fall short in providing crucial information like doppler (object speed and angular direction), long range and depth, limiting their effectiveness for 360-degree sensing.

Next-Gen Radar Technology

Perception radar is built based on a high channel count enabling both high resolution and a very low false alarm rate. This combination provides detailed and reliable information that enhances the safety of advanced ADAS features, including hands-free and eyes-off features. Perception radar provides real-time speed and depth data for all objects in the scene and is the only sensor that can detect small objects, like lost cargo at a 325-yard (300-m) range. 

A synergy of cameras and high-resolution imaging radar is ideal. By addressing each other's weaknesses, these two technologies offer a combined sensing capability crucial for reliable hands-free driving. The combination of perception radar and cameras in the sensor suite will enable OEMs to make the leap to hands-free driving that is reliable, consistent and, of course, safe.


In an industry where survival is dependent on technological advancement, data is the enabler of future development and true safety. Having the right sensors in place will make all the difference. Advanced sensors are the path to hands-free driving and are ultimately the backbone of automotive innovation.

Kobi Marenko (pictured, left) is CEO of Arbe, a leader in the automotive radar market.

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