Obstacle avoidance for commercial trucks is getting quite sophisticated. Depending on budget and needs, a fleet can now choose anything from basic cameras and backup alarms to more complex systems, including integrated onboard safety products like Bendix's electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control, which provide drivers with additional options to avoid collisions.

Fred Andersky, Bendix director of marketing, says the Bendix ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control), set for launch in late 2008/early 2009, more than just warns a driver when the truck is closing in on another vehicle. It also “enables a vehicle to maintain a set following interval based on time between the truck and lead vehicle. It's integrated on the vehicle with the Bendix ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a full stability system designed to help mitigate loss-of-control events and rollovers.”

Cost, of course, is always a consideration to fleets when it comes to safety systems, Andersky reminds us. “Lane departure warning, collision warning and commercial vehicle stability systems offer relatively good ROI and short payback periods. Many fleets, in fact, have determined that if a particular safety system is able to help prevent just one incident, then it typically pays for installation on the entire fleet.”

Beyond cost, Andersky says data is also a key driver of object detection purchases by fleets. Bendix makes data available, either for download or through the vehicle network for telematics suppliers, to distribute. Fleets can use the data to assist with driver training efforts. It also provides them with additional information when an accident occurs.

DRIVERS PUSH DEMAND

Driver acceptance is also a critical component in getting fleets to adopt new safety technology, notes Scott Adams, manager for the Vehicle Solutions Business Unit, Eaton Truck Components. “Today, more so than in the past, it's the actual drivers who are really pushing the demand, and they are playing an increasingly larger role in getting these systems installed in more fleets.

“Eaton's new VS-400 Vorad system is the most advanced collision warning system on the market that meets the needs of the driver and fleet,” according to Adams. The latest generation Vorad VS-400 went into full production a year ago. It included the introduction of new 77-GHz radar and a new driver interface unit. It also offers improvements in eliminating false alerts and is capable of detecting stationary objects. The unit can be installed in the aftermarket as well as at the factory.

“The installation flexibility increases a fleet's ROI by allowing them to move the product to new tractors in the future. Customers also have the option to select and purchase any one or all of the numerous safety-related Vorad offerings, including a standard collision warning system with forward-looking radar, BlindSpotter side sensors and SmartCruise adaptive cruise control,” Adams reports.

Dan Beveridge, vp-sales and marketing for Rostra Precision Controls, says reliability and function are the most important features to fleets. “Many fleets are interested in either a camera system or a microwave-based obstacle system. They see the advantage of having these systems to help reduce repair costs and vehicle downtime.”

While Rostra has many kits already developed for purchase, modifications can also be made to meet a fleet's specific design interests. The company's newest product, the RearSight kit, has all the useful features of Rostra's backup cameras but with increased functionality. For example, the waterproof color-image camera features auto infrared for night vision and a heavy-duty bracket with a 5-ft. harness that allows drivers to easily adjust the camera's angle. It provides a 150-deg., wide-angle view behind the vehicle that is transferred to the in-cab monitor. The TFT-LCD 7-in. monitor mounts directly to the dash and has a reserve override function as well as dual video inputs for navigation, DVD and/or interior camera.

Side-vision cameras as well as multi-screen monitors are at the cutting edge of technology, according to Michael Padrnos, national commercial vehicle industry manager for ASA Electronics, who says they provide drivers with more safety than has ever been available before. ASA's Voyager AOM7694HD monitor, for example, offers multi-screen capability that can accommodate up to four observation cameras. The side-vision cameras mount easily on the front fenders where they are unobtrusive and safe from impairment.

“Unlike sensor or radar systems, our camera/monitor observation system provides a driver with real-time images of a vehicle's surroundings so they can detect dangerous obstacles in the vehicle's path,” Padrnos states. “It especially increases the safety quotient when paired with our Super CMOS camera, which has a 102-deg. horizontal viewing angle and anti-blooming feature that means direct light from headlights or sunrises/sunsets will not wash out the screen. With these two products, drivers can see up to three or four lanes of traffic on both sides of the vehicle.”

ACCIDENT PREVENTION

Intec Video Systems' president Don Nama says there has been much greater interest in objection detection systems due to the high costs of accidents that can be prevented by their use. “Studies have shown that vision is the primary sense that is relied on for more than 90% of driving tasks. Our Intec Car Vision [camera] products are designed to provide very high performance and reliability in fleet applications,” he explains. “Many use military-spec connections, polyurethane jacketed cables, tempered glass optics and lens covers, and heavy-duty waterproof enclosures. Our cameras are also offered with thermostatically controlled heaters so they can perform in cold weather climates.”

Intec Video Systems also offers integrated radar that allows the use of active safety sensors to complement the passive vision safety system. The radar, Nama explains, constantly scans for obstacles and hazards, and when one is detected, a visual and audible alert is provided. The system works over a single cable harness.

Trends that Safety Vision says it's seeing in the industry include a move away from older CRT-BW systems toward the new LED ones. Also in the past, the company notes, object detection systems were very basic and did not come with things like low-light illuminators, audio so the driver can hear what is happening behind the vehicle while in reverse, and monitors with built-in dimming sensors to automatically adjust for night driving.

These features all come standard on the Safety Vision line of collision avoidance equipment, including mobile video cameras and recording systems with the highest shock rating in the industry and sealed high-grade O-ring connectors, according to the manufacturer. Last December, the company released the new SV-622 Series side-view camera. Among its features are infrared technology, a built-in microphone, automatic sensors and an extra-wide field of view (120 deg.) that enables drivers to see across multiple lanes without losing sight of the vehicle body.

Mobile Awareness, which manufactures SenseStat wired and wireless obstacle detection sensor systems, has just released a new series of wired and wireless commercial vehicle camera systems. The VisionStat system can be configured with up to four infrared night vision CCD cameras. It's available for front, side or rear mounting and features a 5.6-in. color monitor that includes a control interface embedded into the monitor enclosure.

“Mobile Awareness recognizes that [fleets] want flexible, effective and affordable camera systems that improve their vehicle safety environments,” says Brandon Stotsenburg, director of sales and marketing. “Our VisionStat color video systems were developed to provide high-quality cameras at a price which will allow our customers to outfit their entire fleets for safety while including features such as an auto dimming display and a common mounting footprint for both our wired and wireless systems.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THESE WEB SITES:

ASA ELECTRONICS
www.asaelectronics.com

BENDIX COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SYSTEMS
www.bendix.com

EATON VORAD
www.roadranger.com

INTEC VIDEO SYSTEMS
www.intecvideo.com

MOBILE AWARENESS
www.mobileawareness.com

PANA-PACIFIC CORP.
www.panapacific.com

PRECO ELECTRONICS
www.preco.com

ROSTRA PRECISION CONTROLS
www.rostra.com

SAFETY VISION
www.safetyvision.com

SONAR SAFETY SYSTEMS
www.hindsight20-20.com

TRANSPORTATION SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES
www.tst-corp.com

ZONE DEFENSE
www.zonedefensetruck.com

MARANGONI TREAD N.A.