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Bendix readying ‘future generation’ in safety technology to further reduce fatalities

The next generation of safety systems will include radars, cameras and sensors “coming together as never before,” TJ Thomas, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, controls group, told reporters Wednesday at a MATS news conference. (The Trucker: LYNDON FINNEY)

The Trucker Staff


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With a rulemaking expected this fall on electronic stability programs for tractor-trailers and motorcoaches and a forward collision avoidance rule coming sometime after that, Bendix is not resting on its laurels but readying its “future generation” of safety technology to reduce fatalities up to 57 percent, officials said here Wednesday.

And the company is counting on its “real world” testing with fleets to make converts, especially where costs are concerned.

While it may be difficult to put a cost on crashes that never happen, officials said here prior to the Mid-America Trucking Show that carriers which see the technology in action immediately see savings in terms of dollars and cents but more importantly, in lives saved.

The next generation of safety systems will include radars, cameras and sensors “coming together as never before,” said TJ Thomas, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, controls group.

Even automated driving was mentioned, and although Google has been active with the technology on the automotive side, don’t expect the concept to become a reality on the streets until 2025 at the earliest said Fred Andersky, director of governmental and industry affairs for Bendix.

Currently, a collision mitigation technology has been fully released on five of the six major commercial vehicle original equipment (OE) nameplates. The approximately10,000 units now on the road have been virtually problem-free since the radar launched nearly 18 months ago, spokesmen pointed out. Bendix Wingman Advanced, an active safety system that allows trucks to detect and mitigate potential collisions, “has been helping fleets improve safety, compliance, and profitability since its launch in 2011,” officials said.

The Bendix Wingman Advanced system from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC provides drivers with following distance alerts and, if necessary, will apply vehicles’ foundation brakes to help drivers potentially avoid collisions or help reduce the severity of collisions.

“The upgraded radar in Bendix Wingman Advanced enabled us to deliver on three key goals: to improve alignment, reduce false alerts, and strengthen its object tracking capabilities,” said Thomas. “We’re very happy with the feedback from our customers, which is indicating that the radar and the rest of the Wingman Advanced system are doing their duty – significantly reducing the potential for costly accidents – with exceptional reliability. The new radar’s performance is having a strong, positive impact on return on investment for fleets.”

Delivering active cruise control with braking features, along with collision mitigation technology, Bendix Wingman Advanced builds on the company’s full-stability technology – Bendix ESP Electronic Stability Program. Used in conjunction, Bendix’s complete safety solutions can help drivers in loss-of-control, rollover, or collision situations, spokesmen said.

Bendix Wingman Advanced delivers both warnings and active interventions to help drivers potentially avoid rear-end collisions or, at least, help reduce their severity. The system uses a radar sensor mounted to the front of the vehicle to provide following distance and stationary object alerts. These alerts are always available above a minimum speed – whether or not cruise control is engaged. When drivers use their cruise control, the adaptive cruise control with braking feature will actively intervene to help them maintain a safe following distance behind a forward vehicle by reducing throttle, engaging the engine retarder, or, if necessary, applying the foundation brakes.

The collision mitigation feature of Bendix Wingman Advanced provides additional braking interventions, delivering up to two-thirds of the vehicle braking power through the steer, drive, and trailer brakes. This “always available” braking feature is ready to assist drivers –whether or not cruise control is active – by alerting the driver and automatically applying the brakes to help decelerate the vehicle when the system senses a rear-end collision may be imminent.

Spokesmen noted that “The driver, as always, still maintains control and can add additional braking or steering inputs to help avoid or minimize the collision situation.”

Fleets utilizing Bendix Wingman Advanced “regularly report an estimated 60 to 80 percent reduction in rear-end collisions, saving them millions of dollars in out-of-pocket costs the first year of use and millions of dollars in potential losses in years to come,” spokesman said.

Its stationary object alert provides audible and visual alerts to the driver when the vehicle is approaching a large stationary metallic object, such as a car, steel drum, or other metallic obstruction blocking the lane of travel. The alert gives the driver up to three seconds before a potential impact, helping him or her to respond to the impending threat. The warning is always available above 10 mph.

 “More manufacturers and fleets than ever before are looking to the advantages of the Bendix ESP system,” said Scott Burkhart, Bendix vice president and GM, Controls and Modules. “Through demos and trials, they see how well the technology works and come away as believers in what it can bring to their business – in terms of safety, performance, and value. There’s a reason higher-performing full stability continues to outsell roll-only technology in today’s marketplace. It has proven itself both in terms of crash mitigation and ROI.”

Bendix has not left out the driver on the front end. The SafetyDirect version 3.2 – allows for more comprehensive application of the data generated by vehicle safety systems, enabling the creation of training programs that recognize ideal driving habits and target specific driver needs.

SafetyDirect is a user-friendly Web portal that provides fleet operators with videos of severe events, along with comprehensive feedback on their fleet and drivers. The system wirelessly and automatically transmits real-time driver performance data and event-based information to the fleet’s back office for analysis by fleet safety personnel.

“Safe drivers practicing safe driving habits, supported by comprehensive driver training, have always been the first line of defense in preventing accidents,” said Thomas. “More than ever, SafetyDirect helps recognize and reinforce drivers’ best practices, enabling fleets to strategically enhance and improve their training programs to maximize highway safety.”

MATS attendees can sharpen their preventive maintenance skills in a variety of areas during Bendix’s Tech Talk Series beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and continuing through Saturday at the Bendix booth No. 32305.

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