Connecting Passion and Purpose

2022-03-02  |  6 min read 

Purpose fuels passion and performance. This phrase describes Natalie Killeen from Keysight Labs perfectly. Natalie is very passionate about her job, striving to make a positive impact at work and the world we are living in. She is an IC designer and has been with Keysight Labs for three years. A few months into her job, she learned that an autonomous driving project needed an antenna designer. With the antenna knowledge gained from her time at university, Natalie jumped into action and eagerly joined the team, fulfilling her passion for contributing to the project as an antenna designer. 

More than two years and many more hardware iterations later, Natalie was persistently working hard to tackle the tough challenges of the project. Her father’s condition has been one of the driving forces behind her dedication to working on this autonomous driving project. Several years ago, her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was painful for Natalie to watch the man who has helped her with her math homework and taught her to play softball struggle as his physical ability declined over the years. 

“Some days are better than others, but he often needs my mother to drive him to the store or the doctor, and I know this loss of independence is difficult for him sometimes,” Natalie expressed. Autonomous driving is a future capability that can offer enormous life improvements to those that cannot drive themselves. Natalie hopes that it will help her father hold on to his independence while still being safe on the road. 

The autonomous driving project had very interesting system requirements, and Natalie recalled that the most difficult part was squinting the antenna beam in an unconventional direction while trying to keep 40 dB Tx / Rx isolation and above 20 dBc sidelobe levels. She was relatively new to the project and immediately researched previous publications to see what had already been achieved, instead of recreating the process. However, nothing was available to guide her through the design challenges. Natalie was determined to get it right and started from a new drawing board with support from her colleagues. 

Two factors kept her going. The first was that the antenna Natalie designed is a pivotal component for the Keysight Radar Scene Emulator solution launched at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, as shown in Figure 1. Natalie was grateful to be part of a team that functioned well together. She recalled that her colleagues’ support and teamwork were critical to her success. “The antennas are the ears and the mouth of the system — it doesn’t matter what you say if no one’s listening, and it’s difficult to focus on one conversation in a crowded room,” Natalie said. “If my antennas did not perform well, all the hard work behind them that my colleagues did will not be visible.” The second motivating factor for Natalie was time. As the autonomous vehicle, a state-of-the-art system will take time to develop, she believed that the quicker she and her team produced a viable solution, the faster the people like her father could benefit from it.

Keysight Radar Scene Emulator
Figure 1. Radar Scene Emulator helps sharpen your ADAS radar vision with full-scene emulation

The Radar Scene Emulator enables automakers to lab test complex, real-world driving scenarios, accelerating the overall speed of test. This first-to-market technology results from the hard work of Natalie and her teammates. It combines hundreds of miniature radar target simulators into a scalable traffic emulation screen that can emulate up to 512 objects at distances as close as 1.5 meters. 

Natalie’s passion has resulted in a purpose-built solution that can shift testing of complex driving scenarios from the road to the lab, dramatically accelerating the speed of test. With the radar scene emulator, we can verify and train the algorithms thoroughly and confidently to achieve the vision of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and next-generation vehicle autonomy sooner and with less risk. For more information, visit Sharpen Your ADAS Radar Vision with the Keysight Radar Scene Emulator.