Photo: Bendix

Bendix shares safety tech tips

Aug. 17, 2018
Bendix offers some insight on the evolution of advanced vehicle safety technologies.

The global commercial vehicle industry continues to make new technological strides toward improving truck, driver and roadway safety. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems recently shared some of its latest insights on the rapidly evolving world of advanced safety technologies.

In the cab

Whether they’re providing alerts or warnings about speed over the posted limit, following distance, lane departure or objects in the blind spot, today’s collision mitigation systems communicate with drivers in a variety of ways. These include audible, visual and haptic feedback, such as a “rumble strip” vibration in the steering wheel. On the surface, they seem uncomplicated – a beep, a blink, or a buzz – but these Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) are increasingly important as technology advances.

“Ultimately, an HMI has a single goal: To quickly get a driver’s attention and engagement,” explained Fred Andersky, director of customer solutions & marketing – Controls at Bendix. “While today’s systems – and those for the foreseeable future – provide advanced driver assistance and even interventions like braking, they’re still far from driver replacement, which means ensuring they work effectively with drivers is just as important as the actions they can take on their own.”

Integrated driver assistance systems like Bendix Wingman Fusion use an integrated approach to HMI. According to the company, a warning indication icon and tones give the driver the most critical warnings and suppress the least critical. The HMI can also convey other information, including distance to a forward object, speed and system intervention status. Some vehicle manufacturers offering advanced driver assistance systems as standard have incorporated the HMI into their dashboards to accommodate the wide range of alerts and information.

One example of future simplification and standardization on this front is the Bendix Intellipark automatic electronic parking brake. The technology replaces the familiar manual air parking brake with electronic switches, and works through interlocks installed in critical areas, such as the seat, seat belt or cab door to engage the brake if the driver leaves the seat or opens the door without setting it first. Intellipark also brings HMI elements to the parking brake system, delivering visual alerts to the driver through lights on the switch and a Trailer Air Warning that indicates the status of the trailer’s air supply.

What’s going on at the wheel-ends?

The effectiveness of current and future active safety systems relies in large part on the performance of a vehicle’s foundation brakes: Stopping power, consistency and – in the not-too-distant future – steering will all be impacted by the selection and combination of wheel-end components.

“For decades, Bendix has emphasized the importance of balance in air-braked systems because safety and performance depend on precise and equal brake activation,” said Joey Campbell, product manager of air disc brakes at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. “In the age of electronically controlled braking – from antilock brakes to full-stability and collision mitigation – making sure each wheel-end is performing optimally takes on even greater importance.”

While air disc brakes (ADB) are recognized as providing better stopping power than traditional drum brakes – and adoption is increasing – the large majority of North American tractor and trailer wheels are equipped with drums. This means that as fleets and drivers encounter mixed-and-matched combinations of discs and drums on tractors and trailers, they need to know what to expect from these “hybrid” braking solutions.

Under normal brake operations, all the wheel-ends in a properly balanced brake system take on an equal amount of the workload, no matter whether they are discs, drums, on the tractor or trailer. However, in heavy braking operation – descending mountains, for instance – drum brakes can heat up and exhibit decreased performance known as brake fade. This has the effect of shifting extra work onto the disc brakes to maintain the stopping power and could mean shorter ADB pad life.

While it is possible to deliberately imbalance the air system to compensate for drum brake fade, Campbell stresses that Bendix doesn’t recommend it.

“For one thing, that brake fade situation is temporary, and it only exists for a small percentage of a vehicle’s operating time,” he said. “This approach means you’ve created a work imbalance between the discs and drums during normal operation to fix a problem that only exists during a small percentage of application. [While] on the road, you want that air system balanced to optimize the performance of not just the brakes, but the advanced safety systems they’re ultimately supporting.”

What’s next?

Bendix’s current flagship advanced driver assistance system is Bendix Wingman Fusion. The technology uses forward-facing camera and radar, as well as wheel-end sensors to combine and cross-check information from multiple sources, delivering enhanced rear-end collision mitigation, alerts when speeding and braking on stationary vehicles. Since it’s built on the foundational full-stability technology of Bendix ESP, Fusion also helps drivers avoid additional crash situations, including rollovers and loss-of-control, Bendix noted. Fusion’s camera is powered by the Mobileye System-on-Chip EyeQ processor.

With Fusion already providing a road-tested suite of safety technologies, Andersky offered a look around the next bend of the road to highly automated driving and discussed features of the forthcoming next-generation Fusion system.

“Multi-lane Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) will be another example of how the deep integration of different sensor technologies enables more advanced capabilities,” Andersky said. “Say your truck is in the center lane and approaching a slow or stopped vehicle in its lane: If the system also detects that there is no clear route available in the adjacent lanes, it will use this information to continue autonomous emergency braking through any lane changes. Additionally, enhancements to the AEB capabilities enable speed reductions up to 50 mph on moving as well as stationary vehicles.”

Other advances include highway departure braking, which builds upon the existing lane departure warning to alert the driver and activate the brakes if the vehicle leaves the roadway with Stop-and-Go with Driver Release capabilities added to Automatic Cruise Control (ACC). The latter will increase the usable speed range of ACC for maintaining distance in high-traffic congestion, plus bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Forthcoming Fusion advancements will also lead to linking the next generation of Bendix BlindSpotter Side Object Detection System, integrating data from the side-radar unit to help drivers mitigate side-swipe and blind spot crashes.

“Advancements like these also point to the importance of strong foundational sensor technologies because they’re achieved solely through software and computing power enhancements,” Andersky said. “The next generation won’t involve any hardware replacements or upgrades – the building blocks are already in place. In the future, however, both hardware and software will continue to evolve to drive even more automation.”

However, even as technology advances, there’s no replacement for skilled, alert drivers practicing safe driving habits and supported by proactive, ongoing training programs.

“Driver assistance does not equal driver replacement – not by a long shot,” noted Andersky, who holds a Class A CDL and often drives demonstrations of Bendix systems. “These technologies can make a real difference in the safety, productivity, wellness and growth of truck drivers. They can keep good drivers from having a bad day, reduce fatigue and encourage skill maintenance and improvement through the information they provide on driving habits.”

Benefits beyond the trucking industry extend to reduced emissions – since aspects like cruise control help engines work more efficiently – and ultimately, safer roads for all travelers. A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report showed that from 2015 to 2016, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 6% – but also noted that for 73% of the large trucks in fatal crashes, the “critical pre-crash event” was another vehicle, person, animal or object in the large truck’s lane or encroaching into it.

“The most experienced, highly skilled driver out there still can’t control everything else on the road; we all share the same human limitations when it comes to things like reaction time,” Andersky pointed out. “What we can do as an industry is equip vehicles that are driver-supportive and proven to be safer for everyone sharing the highways.”

About the Author

Fleet Owner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Cristina Commendatore, Executive Editor

Scott Achelpohl, Managing Editor 

Josh Fisher, Senior Editor

Catharine Conway, Digital Editor

Eric Van Egeren, Art Director

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