Collision Prevention Systems

The development of safety systems for trucks has sped up quite a bit in the past few years. Nowadays this feature comes as standard for most truck manufacturers. Furthermore, administration has made it compulsory to use electronic stability control systems.

Future variations of these systems are already under development. New functions under consideration include a function that can monitor driver tiredness and maintain lane stability. However, some people still have concerns about these systems. Similarly, one of the biggest concerns regards the system’s ability to communicate with the vehicle’s driver.

Primary Purpose of the Systems

Andersky is a senior official with Bendix. He points out that the primary purpose of these systems is to share information with the driver. He says that these systems’ purpose is to tell the driver about issues which could occur. This information gets relayed to the driver through an audio or visual-based Human Machine Interface (HMI). That said, because of a lack of actual regulations from NHTSA, many (good and bad) variations exist.  

Andersky also believes quite strongly in the regulation of these safety products and HMIs across all manufacturers. This is to ensure there is no confusion amongst drivers. For instance, a driver may need to leave their own vehicle and continue work in another truck with a different system installed in it. Because the system is not currently regulated across all manufacturers, drivers may struggle to do their work. 

The Systems to Aid Drivers without Causing Them to Lose Focus from the Road

Deborah Thompson is the technology lead for human factors division at Volvo. She believes that using augmented reality to project information on the truck’s windscreen for the driver can help in delivering information without causing the driver to lose focus from the road. Additionally, she says her company is working on incorporating this feature into all the trucks they produce.

The System’s Success Stories

These driver support systems still have room for improvement. But, the number of success stories and related stats show real progress. For instance, Schneider reported a 95% drop in the severity of accidents caused. According to Dave Smith, who works for Daimler, the rate of recurrence for all incidents had also dropped by 70%.

Smith also says that 83% of all their fleets with more than 100 trucks in them opted for these smart systems for collision prevention. The number for smaller fleets, though? A meagre 36%. Smith offered one reason trucks part of a smaller fleet opted for these systems at lower rates. He suggested the chance of facing an unfortunate scenario in a smaller fleet is automatically lower.

Totally Automated Driving Systems?

Andersky pointed out that we can expect the introduction of full-fledged automatic driving systems in the future. Current safety systems are just the beginning. The fusion of each system with the others is what will cause new systems, automated systems. The braking system needs to work in congruence with the engine management module for adaptive cruise control to work. The integration of all such systems will lead to an overall transformation.

The Addition of New Features to These Systems

Over time, new features will get introduced into this field. For example, Peterbilt announced the addition of three new systems that will make their way into their vehicles in the coming years. These new vehicles will have stop-and-go assistance in traffic, a lane-maintenance assistant during the current year, and the ability to detect objects by the year 2020. By 2021, these vehicles should have the ability to monitor the condition of the drivers as well. Cameras will continuously monitor the status and level of the driver’s attention and fatigue. 

One thing to keep in mind, however, regards how all the puzzle pieces in the system fit together. For instance, the success of these tools is dependent on the functioning of the mechanics at the base of the systems. It is important that tools like camera and radars get calibrated in the correct direction. It is also vital the braking systems get tuned frequently to ensure their compliance with the needs of the system.

The Importance of Breaks and Tires

Keith McComsey is the director of wheel-end customer solutions and marketing at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. He brought up an important point regarding the brakes and tires of a truck. Specifically, he says that for the abovementioned collision prevention systems to work, the ultimate reliability comes down to the real components at work, i.e. the brakes and the tires. Having these two parts fully maintained and regularly inspected is directly linked to the proportionate success level of the systems responsible for automated slowing and stopping.

The Maintenance Required by These Systems

Mark Melletat, a senior executive at Wabco Americas, agrees with requiring these systems in all vehicles. He also reminds us that these systems require maintenance just like any other system of the vehicle. To inspect such systems, all that has to get done is a routine test driver to ensure the system does not trigger any fault codes.

These Systems Won’t Replace Drivers

Buffy Wilkerson addressed the misconception that these systems are meant to replace drivers. She states the purpose of the systems is to help drivers. Having proper orientation is very important to ensure successful deployment. The rate of successful deployment is quite visible when paired with adequate training. This is especially true when compared to fleets with no training. In these cases, the drivers and technicians got forced to understand the systems on their own. This left them vulnerable to error and misunderstanding.

The Most Common Problem with these Collision Prevention Systems?

According to Andersky, the most common issue with these systems occurs in the radar system, which can get misaligned. However, fixing these issues is quite easy since the system itself mostly informs the driver of what changes must get done for recalibration.

Fleets that opt to have these anti-collision systems installed need to train their employees to use them. It is crucial to have all the drivers in the fleet oriented about the capabilities of the system and what it can and cannot do.

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