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This paper is concerned with the review and discussion of topics fundamental to the design of operational radar sensors for automatically activated braking systems for automobiles. Expected benefits in terms of reduced accidents and societal costs are briefly discussed, and a short discussion on modes of operation is presented. Target detectability characteristics are reviewed, and selected vehicles and pedestrian range-amplitude signatures at 10, 35, and 60 GHz are presented, as are discussions of atmospheric effects on propagation between 10 and 100 GHz. A short analysis of highway geometry effects on system performance is given, and false detection and intersystem problems are discussed in terms of this analysis.