Bendix looking at infrared night-vision device

Known for its Class 8 truck brake systems, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems is now concentrating on developing a totally different product line: XVision, an infrared night-vision device.

Aiming for a release date in the first quarter of next year, Bendix believes XVision will be attractive to drivers since it will enhance their ability to "see" objects in the roadway at night almost as if it were day.

"What we're trying to do is give truck drivers the same 'reaction distance' they have during daytime driving," said Andrea Raaber, director of new business development for Bendix, at the Mid-America Trucking Show. "This provides drivers with an extra cushion of safety - and that gives them greater peace of mind while driving at night," she added.

Raaber said the need for nighttime vision systems for truck drivers is clear. Although only 28% of all driving (cars and trucks) is done at night, 55% of all car and truck accidents happen then, she said. About 35% of all fatal crashes and 26% of all non-fatal truck crashes occur between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Raaber added.

When Bendix surveyed owner-operators, fleet managers, and company drivers about night accidents, 72% said improved night visibility was a key contributor to night-driving safety.

XVision is a thermal imaging device that detects low-contrast objects at night by the heat they give off. By detecting objects that are out of the range of truck headlights, XVision increases the amount of time drivers have to react to 23 sec. from 6 sec.

The infrared night vision camera, which is bolted to the outside top of the cab, provides 12 deg. of horizontal viewing space and 4 deg. of vertical viewing space. The camera itself measures 5x6 in.; it will be available in 12V and 24V models.

The company estimates that XVision will cost somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 when it comes to market next year.