what's new in: Obstacle detection

You can't put a price on safety. In a nutshell, that's the single most important reason why a truck or bus operator should invest in an obstacle detection system for its fleet.

You can't put a price on safety. In a nutshell, that's the single most important reason why a truck or bus operator should invest in an obstacle detection system for its fleet. And to meet the needs of different sized pocketbooks, there is everything available on the market now from simple backup mirrors and cameras to high-end integrated systems.

“There's a lot happening in the market with regard to various types of safety devices — both passive and active,” says T.J. Thomas, product manager for driver assistance systems, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. He notes that unfortunately many of these systems are viewed from a stand-alone perspective.

The “real value to the fleet comes from the integration of these types of [object detection] systems with existing systems to provide the most comprehensive approach and deliver active intervention that provides the driver with options to avoid accidents,” Thomas says.

Now that Bendix's first active safety system, the ESP (electronic stability program), has started gaining market acceptance, Thomas advises, the company is building on its foundation to create future safety systems that incorporate Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Collision Mitigation Systems. This “new level” of active safety systems, he reports, is in its final stages of development.

“The system warns the driver and takes action when necessary to help the driver mitigate an accident. It uses both the engine retarder as well as the brakes to accomplish this. Additionally, it will provide a fleet with valuable, easy-to-understand information to improve training programs which promote driver safety.”

Kevin Smith, national accounts executive for Eaton's Vehicle Solutions Business Unit, believes that the percentage of fleets equipping their trucks with obstacle detection is not anywhere near where it should be, but says: “We're very optimistic about the future based on the interest we've seen over the past 2-3 years.

“At VORAD,” Smith explains, “we've seen an increased interest [among fleets] in all aspects of safety. In today's trucking environment, with insurance costs skyrocketing and driver turnover depleting the number of good, quality drivers, it's imperative that fleets provide every technological advantage they can get to help reduce the chance of an accident.”

Eaton's VORAD system, which stands for Vehicle On-board Radar, consists of forward-looking radar that senses objects moving slower than the vehicle within 350 ft. “We know that 55% of accidents with a Class 8 vehicle are the result of a front end collision,” Smith relates. “Front end and sideswipe together represent about 80% of accidents. Drivers have a difficult time gauging distance based on speed. VORAD takes into account both speed and distance.”

Smith says fleets having trouble justifying the cost of an object detection system should consider this: “Right now, the average wrongful death award is more than $8 million. And that doesn't even take into account ‘pain and suffering.’ Money aside, VORAD pretty much comes down to just doing the right thing. It saves lives.”

INTEC Video Systems' president, Donald Nama, urges fleets considering the costs of implementing a collision avoidance system to remember the benefits “aren't only on the road. Fleet safety improvements will reduce accident and associated costs, while operational efficiencies can also provide an accelerated payback. Another benefit is improved company safety perception by the public and heightened driver attention to safety protocols,” all of which can prove invaluable to a fleet.

Nama notes INTEC Video Systems safety cameras are used by fleets in various industries, including waste collection, shuttle bus, city maintenance and P&D. “Safety is a primary concern among fleets of all sizes and video cameras and displays offer a reliable, effective way for drivers to monitor blind spots around the vehicle. Systems can accommodate automatic camera switching and reduce driver burden and stress in tight maneuvers. Using radar with video allows a driver to be alerted when an obstacle is in his blind spot. He can confirm the nature of the obstacle in the video monitor.”

Sonar Safety Systems Inc. (SSSI) offers fleets Hindsight 20/20, a combination unit that provides drivers with audio and visual detection. The system includes a 7-in. monitor, three-channel camera input, two-channel sonar input (for rear detection), six-step detection distance indication, a mirror and built-in speaker and microphone.

Rostra Precision Controls uses microwave technology in its RearSentry system to alert drivers of objects up to 12 ft behind the vehicle. RearSentry, the manufacturer explains, automatically resets itself when an object is no longer dangerously close to the vehicle.

Michael Padmos, industry manager-commercial division at Audiovox Specialized Applications (ASA), says: “Today's need of total driver awareness…has prompted fleets to utilize every bit of technology available to them, be it GPS navigation to avoid distraction of trying to read road signs or maps, or single- and multiple-camera observation systems that eliminate treacherous blind spots when backing, merging or turning.”

ASA is the designer and manufacturer of the Voyager Blind Zone line of observations systems. The Voyager safety line, Padmos notes, includes a wide variety of system options from a basic single camera rear vision system to a full color multi-view 4-camera LCD monitor that provides Split-Screen, Tri-View and Quad views for total visibility around the entire truck.

Padmos says, “fleets use the Voyager rear and side camera systems for a dual benefit/payback: reducing the number of backing accidents, thus decreasing the number of property claims, and increasing the overall safety of their drivers and fleet.”

To assist drivers with an additional layer of protection while backing up vehicles, MICO Inc. has introduced an Object Detection and Brake Interlock System. The system unites the MICO 691 Brake Lock with the PreView radar object detection system from Preco Electronics and is initiated once an equipped vehicle is shifted into reverse.

The PreView radar, the company explains, detects both stationary and moving objects within the cone of the radar signal. For vehicles with a larger area outside of the operator's view, multiple radar sensors can be networked into one system. An onboard display module alerts the operator to objects identified by radar at distances up to 26 ft. At predetermined distances, the system will then automatically apply the MICO 691 Brake Lock to prevent a collision with the object.

The 691 Brake Lock system is a self-contained system that does not interfere with the normal braking system or operation of the vehicle, MICO reports, and it is compatible with single, dual or antilock braking systems.












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