Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Ryan Gerdes


Radar is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. In general terms, it is a machine that uses radio waves for object-detection in its near periphery. It transmits radio waves in a known direction, which when intercepted by an obstruction/object are reflected by its surface and are received back at the radar system. The round trip delay time along with the known velocity of radio waves gives an accurate measurement of the distance of the object from the radar system. In a somewhat similar fashion, some radars are even capable of measuring the velocity of this object. Frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) radar is one such radar system, which is a subclass of continuous wave (CW) radars, where a continuous sinusoidal radio energy is transmitted, reflected, and received back at the radar system. These radar systems are widely used in vehicle automation technologies such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) and collision avoidance systems (CAS) to measure the distance from the nearest vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. But in designing these systems, little attention has been given to security, and these systems have vulnerabilities that are capable of compromising the whole purpose of making such systems.

In this work one such vulnerability in FMCW radar was exploited to design an attack that was capable of decreasing the apparent distance, as measured by a radar system. The attack was designed in such a way that there was no tampering with the radar system being attacked. Instead, false distance information was introduced in the return path of the transmitted radio wave by absorbing the original victim transmission and sending out a modified radio wave on the It was shown that the distance could be decreased to alarming values, which at the level of the vehicle automation system results in decreasing the speed of the automobile when actually it should have increased.