Collision avoidance technologies

Collision avoidance technologies

Collision avoidance technologies could prevent nearly half of all rear-end, run-off-road and lane change crashes.

Based on studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation, collision avoidance technologies on vehicles could prevent nearly half of all rear-end, run-off-road and lane change crashes. Five years ago, through its Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) Initiative, the U.S. DOT established a partnership with the industry to develop and field test an integrated safety system on trucks.

The cooperative research agreement with a private consortium led by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) set out to build and field test an integrated vehicle-based safety system designed to prevent rear-end, lane change and run-off-road crashes. The prototype vehicles would include forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure warning (LDW), lane change warning (LCW) and curve speed warning (CSW) functions.

During the first two years of the program, the industry team designed, built and conducted tests to verify prototype systems on heavy trucks. The vehicles underwent a series of closed-course track tests aimed at ensuring that the integrated system met the performance requirements and was safe for use by unescorted volunteer drivers during field operational testing.

Field tests
In the next phase of the initiative, the industry team outfitted 10 trucks for use in field tests. The International ProStar 8600 vehicles were owned and operated by Conway Freight, Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The heavy truck field test began in February and was completed in December of 2009. The trucks were driven by 20 volunteer drivers over Conway’s regular pick-up and delivery and linehaul routes, amassing 16,500 hours of driving. Approximately 650,000 miles of driving data was collected, with 140,000 miles of baseline data and 510,000 miles with the integrated system enabled.

Analysis of the test data, which is currently underway, is concentrated on characterizing the driving environment the integrated system was exposed to, documenting changes in driver behavior as a result of their driving experience, and collecting information through driver interviews and subjective questionnaires on driver experience and acceptance. The data will ultimately be used to estimate potential safety benefits, characterize system performance and correlate driver acceptance with on-road experience.

Gaining interest
To improve the ability of drivers to avoid accidents, collision avoidance systems continue to be tested and deployed. A number of different vehicle-based technologies are now readily available and are gaining interest in the marketplace.

Meritor WABCO OnGuard is a commercial vehicle system with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Active Braking. OnGuard assists drivers in maintaining a safe following distance and helps avoid or reduce the impact of rear-end collisions. OnGuard uses forward-looking radar sensor technology to monitor the distance to a moving vehicle ahead and an internal gyro to detect a curve and adjust the radar beam to see objects around the bend. When OnGuard detects that a potential collision is developing, it sends audible and visual warnings through an in-cab dash display so the driver is alerted to take appropriate corrective action. If a potential rear-end collision is developing without the driver taking action, OnGuard’s Collision Mitigation System automatically de-throttles the engine and applies the engine and foundation brakes to provide up to .35Gs of braking power.

Bendix Wingman ACB (Active Cruise with Braking) for commercial vehicles is an adaptive cruise control system that provides visual and audible warnings, reduces the throttle and engages the brakes when the distance between a truck and the vehicle it is following starts to close. The Bendix Wingman ACB system allows fleets to set following distance and alerts. The system also alerts drivers to stationary road hazards with an extra warning about metallic objects, such as standing vehicles, blocking their lane of travel. The alert is given to the driver up to 2.8 seconds before a potential impact. Using a small radar sensor mounted on the front of the truck, the system sends out a signal up to 500 ft., tracking up to 32 objects in its range.

The Bendix VORAD (Vehicle On-board RADar) Collision Warning System helps drivers take evasive action before accidents happen by offering audio and visual warnings that alert drivers to objects up to 500 ft. ahead, even around curves. VORAD can detect and track up to 20 vehicles at a time, even in the worst weather conditions. Options with the system include SmartCruise, which automatically adjusts speed to maintain safe following distances and help avoid front and rear-end collisions, the BlindSpotter side radar sensor that eliminates blind spots for safer lane changes, and BackSpotter, which warns drivers of objects behind them while in reverse.

Iteris offers a suite of active safety driver assistance solutions, including the AutoVue Forward Collision Warning system, manufactured by Delphi, which constantly monitors following distance and alerts the driver when safe following distance thresholds are exceeded. AutoVue scans the road for vehicles or other objects and provides a warning to the driver whenever the headway gap to the vehicle ahead falls below a designated safe following distance. If the alert goes unheeded, the warning increases in intensity until a safe following distance is reached. In addition, the Iteris AutoVue Blind Spot Warning system helps drivers avoid or reduce the severity of side-related accidents resulting from objects in the blind spot by providing visual and audible alerts.

The Takata SafeTraK lane departure warning system combines a small video camera and machine vision software to monitor the road ahead and warn drivers if they unintentionally leave their lane, or if their driving pattern becomes erratic. The Takata system has two unique alerts, one for indicating drivers may need rest and one for inadvertent lane departures. The driver alertness feature is available on the SafeTraK 3 product and includes vehicle-monitoring software that tracks the time of day, number of alerts, and variability in driving performance. The Takata system integrates camera, optics, processor and power supply in a compact unit, which is installed directly on the windshield.


Extra eyes
Vehicle-based camera systems and radar sensors can help mitigate damage and avoid costly accidents in a variety of vehicle operations. These solutions enhance a driver’s visibility and help reduce backing and other moving accidents. Among the companies offering systems are the following:

ASA Electronics provides Voyager Heavy Duty Observation Systems built to endure the conditions often encountered in the trucking and heavy-duty industries. Included are side and rear camera systems.

DriveCam provides an exception-based video event recorder that is mounted on the windshield behind the rearview mirror and captures sights and sounds inside and outside the vehicle. Exceptional forces, such as hard braking and swerving, cause the recorder to save the critical seconds immediately before and after the triggered event.

Mobile Awareness offers the VisionStat series of commercial vehicle camera systems. VisionStat can be configured with up to four infrared night vision cameras in both wired and wireless versions for front, side and rear mounting. The system includes a color monitor, built-in speaker and turn signal switching.

Preco PreView is an object detection system engineered to alert vehicle operators of both moving and stationary obstacles. The system consists of an external sensor that detects objects in the specified range; an in-cab display that provides an audible and visual warning when an object is in the range; and a cabling system to connect the two together. The in-cab display provides the driver with the general proximity of the object to the sensor and as the object gets closer to the sensor, LEDs are illuminated and a warning tone is activated. PreView sensors network with most safety cameras, back-up alarms and reversing lights, and activate a back-up alarm.

Safety Vision provides in-vehicle camera systems, offering live and recorded video in rear-, side-, and forward-view configurations, monitors and mobile DVRs (MDVRs). The MDVR product family now includes the first generation of SafeDrive MiniDVR, a new event-based, windshield-mounted unit.

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