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Meritor Wabco highlights ‘serious business’ of innovation

Meritor Wabco’s Buffy Spielbusch uncovers the next generation OnGuard collision safety system, which features improved radar resolution and robust tracking designed to minimize false warnings. (The Trucker: KEVIN JONES)

By Kevin Jones
The Trucker Staff

8/16/2012

TROY, Mich. Showcasing the latest advancements in integrated truck safety technology and efficiency systems, Meritor Wabco brought together more than 25 fleets and industry media for a hands-on event at the Michigan Proving Ground Aug. 14-16.

Emphasizing that “innovation is very serious business” at the company, Meritor Wabco President and General Manager Jon Morrison explained that improving driver and highway safety, keeping trucks on the road and increasing fleet efficiency is a “high stakes” business, as well.

“It’s pretty easy to be skeptical about innovation,” Morrison said. “We all hear a lot of claims about ‘new and improved.’ It can really be tough sometimes to discern true advancement from simple hype.

“But we want the industry to be as excited about the technology as we are. We want people to recognize the forward progress that is transforming the commercial vehicle industry and the great things that are coming to dramatically improve highway safety.”

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Building on the company’s pioneering commercial vehicle anti-lock braking system, products highlighted at the event included:

— Launch of the next generation OnGuard collision safety system. The system, which integrates collision warning, adaptive cruise with active braking and collision mitigation, will be available on every vehicle ordered with OnGuard after Oct. 1.

Features are improved radar resolution and robust tracking designed to minimize false warnings; an evasive maneuver check, giving the system visibility into adjacent lanes; auto alignment, which makes the radar more resistant to misalignment and is designed to eliminate the need to perform small, manual adjustments; and an improved driver display with a larger, higher-resolution screen shaped for easier orientation on the vehicle dashboard.

More than 25,000 OnGuard units have logged over 3 billion miles, the company said.

— Introduction of ESCsmart technology, which will advance the performance and functionality of electronic stability control (ESC). ESCsmart features self-learning “drive it away” capability, which means that the system adapts itself to any vehicle and application without the previously required series of calibration maneuvers.

To be included in Meritor Wabco’s next generation ESC scheduled for 2014, ESCsmart builds upon the current capability to automatically adapt to changes in vehicle characteristics and wear without the need to reprogram a separate electronic control unit (ECU).

— Immediate availability of Meritor Wabco’s Lane Departure Warning (LDW) in North America, which is a vision-based system first announced in February. LDW is designed to monitor the road and the vehicle’s position in the lane, audibly warning the driver if the vehicle unintentionally leaves its lane.

Advanced image analysis algorithms enable the Meritor Wabco LDW to detect a wide variety of lane markings, such as dividing lines on the highway, even in unfavorable lighting or weather conditions. A Driver Alertness Warning (DAW) function provides a warning when the system determines that the driver, by his driving pattern within the lane, is drowsy.

— Availability of Electronic Control of Air Suspension (ECAS) beginning here in September. ECAS is designed to improve traction on 6x2 applications through electronic load transfer and electronic height control, reducing air consumption and improving fuel economy. More than 3 million Wabco ECAS systems have been sold worldwide and Meritor WABCO is adapting the product to meet the growing interest in North America, the company said.

— A showcase of efficiency products including its air system solutions that are engineered for optimized performance with less energy consumption.

In addition, Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), presented Meritor Wabco with the ITS America Smart Solution Spotlight Award for its development and use of OnGuard. He also spoke on the changing nature of transportation technology.

But the true selling point for Meritor Wabco, explained Morrison, is a 100 percent reorder rate from customers who have sampled the safety technology offerings.

“As we look at total integrated safety systems — ABS, stability control, collision mitigation, lane departure warning, vehicle monitoring, data management — we see the essence of what truck manufacturers and fleets really want: increased value at reduced cost and a return-on-investment for innovation,” Morrison said. “If the word ‘innovation’ has lost its impact, the meaning for us certainly has not. It’s the heart of what we do. It our business plan, it’s how we plan to add value and how we plan to save lives.”

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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