Driver assistance systems for trucks can significantly reduce the risk of an accident

Sep 23, 2008

Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Detection: Continental presents safety technologies which already meet the legal requirements expected to be in force from 2013 onward.

Hanover/Frankfurt. The Chassis & Safety Division of Continental AG, the international automotive supplier, has presented new safety technologies for trucks at the International Motor Show (IAA) for Commercial Vehicles in Hanover. Systems which assist the driver, thereby considerably reducing the risk of an accident, will increasingly be introduced into commercial vehicles in the near future. Radar sensors can monitor the blind spot on the vehicle's right-hand side, for example, and warn the driver of a potential collision. This year, for the first time, the technology is to be installed as standard in a truck produced by the Swedish manufacturer Volvo. Continental is also well prepared for forthcoming legislation, which will make these systems obligatory for heavy commercial vehicles from 2013, by providing systems for monitoring the road area ahead of the truck so as to avoid nose-to-tail collisions. Lane departure warning systems, which can prevent the vehicle straying out of its lane, also figure in Continental's product portfolio.

Already in series production in 2008: blind spot radars

Whether it's vehicles joining freeways at high speed or heavy traffic on multi-lane roads, the risk of a collision lies mainly on the nearside and to the rear of the truck, an area of the road where a driver's field of vision is restricted. In Germany alone, almost one in four of the annual total of 5,000 traffic deaths can be blamed on an accident involving a commercial vehicle.

Already in series production in 2008: blind spot radars. Although a fourth mirror covering this blind spot has been mandatory since 2006, it can only provide the driver with limited assistance at higher speeds. The Blind Spot Detection (BSD) system developed by Continental to monitor this area will be installed for the first time this year in a new model which Volvo is showing. The device will be fitted to the nearside of the vehicle, level with the driver's cab; the housing for the radar sensor and control unit takes up very little space and data is exchanged with the vehicle via the CAN bus.

The radar operates in the 24-Gigahertz range, monitoring the road area to the side and behind the truck with its comprehensive 150 degree radar lobe. The analysis software can distinguish between stationary objects, like roadside lampposts or parked cars, and moving vehicles. The system uses the radar signal's feedback time to calculate, for example, the speed at which a car or motorcycle is approaching from behind and entering the blind spot area. How to warn the truck driver is a matter for each vehicle manufacturer's design philosophy - either by a warning light in the outside mirror or a flashing light in the instrument panel; a sensory warning, such as a vibrating steering wheel, is another possible option. "This system represents technology transferred from the field of passenger car design", says Amrei Drechsler, Vice President Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Continental Chassis & Safety division.

Lane-change assistance has been fitted for some time now in passenger cars. However, installing it in trucks poses particular challenges for avoiding superfluous false alarms when it comes to analyzing the signals; for example, on inside bends, the system must reliably recognize whether the object it has detected really is a separate vehicle in the inside lane or whether it is the truck's own trailer.

Lane departure warning: the camera monitors lane-keeping

Long, monotonous and tiring hours behind the wheel or distractions such as telephone calls or having a bite to eat; these lie behind one of the most frequent causes of accidents, namely veering off the carriageway, with particularly serious consequences if a heavy truck collides with oncoming traffic. The Lane Departure Warning System (LDW) can help to prevent such accidents. It uses a camera, mounted either on the front of the vehicle at instrument panel level or below the roof, to monitor the road ahead. Its digital images are analyzed by a separate control unit. By focusing on the lines marking the middle and the sides of the road, the system can tell if the vehicle inadvertently wanders out of its lane, and alerts the driver. The warning is suppressed if the driver has operated the turn indicator, ready to overtake, for example. "Our system, a further development of the lane departure warning system currently in series production in the Volvo truck, and which will go into series production with a well-known truck manufacturer in 2009, already meets all the technical regulations which are likely to apply throughout Europe from 2013", said Drechsler.

The camera will also allow other safety features to be introduced in future: installed in the headlamp assist system, it will monitor both oncoming traffic and the vehicles in front so that the optimum dipped or main beam setting is automatically selected and other road users are not dazzled.

A traffic sign recognition system will remind drivers of the speed limits or that overtaking is not permitted; a general object detection system can assist distance measuring systems such as radar or lidar, for use with emergency braking assistance which is also likely to be mandatory in 2013, in detecting stationary vehicles, pedestrians or obstacles in the roadway in good time.

ASR 300: the latest generation radar sensor for emergency braking assistance

Future legislation will require the introduction of a forward-looking emergency braking system in order to prevent rear-end collisions, which currently account for virtually half of all accidents involving trucks. Continental's third generation radar system includes the full range of sensors which can monitor the immediate area around the vehicle and on which this safety technology is based. The radar transmitter, operating in the 77-Gigahertz range, monitors a 56 degree sector of the road directly in front of the truck up to a distance of some 60 meters. For long-range operation, up to 200m can be scanned at an aperture setting of 18°. The control electronics, in the same housing as the radar on the front of the vehicle, analyze the data and can tell if the truck is approaching a stationary obstacle at high speed and also whether the distance to the vehicle in front is decreasing because the traffic is slowing. The radar sensor transmits the data to the vehicle's control electronics via the CAN bus, automatically reducing the speed so as to maintain the safety distance from the vehicle in front; or the system can initiate an emergency stop if the traffic suddenly comes to a halt. With its improved Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) functionality, the sensor is able to track other vehicles until they come to a complete standstill, thus gradually slowing the truck down as well. This "Follow to Stop" function makes life easier for the driver, especially in slow-moving traffic, and prevents minor rear-end collisions, which cause long traffic jams and, as a consequence, unnecessary CO2-emissions.

Assistance systems can significantly reduce accident numbers, according to a study

A glance at the accident statistics shows that roughly one in four of the annual total of about 5,000 traffic deaths in Germany can be blamed on an accident involving a goods vehicle; almost 10,000 people suffer severe injuries in collisions of this sort. 47 percent of all crashes involving heavy goods vehicles are rear-end collisions; a further significant cause of accidents is when the vehicle leaves the carriageway, either because the driver is overtired or his attention is distracted. In a study undertaken as part of the "Safe Truck" project, sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research, the Allianz Center for Research and Technology (AZT) came to the conclusion that 24 percent of all HGV rear-end collisions could be avoided if all trucks were fitted with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

The safety benefits would be even greater on freeways where ACC could reduce the number of truck rear-end collisions by around 70 percent. The study saw similarly positive statistics where lane departure warning systems were used; 49 percent of accidents caused by vehicles involuntarily leaving the carriageway could be prevented by the technology.

EU stipulates new safety systems from 2013In May 2008, the European Union began a legislative initiative which foresees the introduction of more stringent safety technologies. From 2013, heavy commercial vehicles will have to be fitted with a forward-looking emergency braking system and a lane departure warning system. The European Council has still to agree to the proposals, the objective of which is a significant reduction in the number of accidents. The systems presented by Continental already meet the legal requirements which are likely to apply from 2013. At present, barely one in twenty trucks in Germany is fitted with a driver assistance system; cost is mainly cited as the reason for not installing safety technology.

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Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

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Phone: +49 69 7603-8492

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