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May 17, 2016 4:30 PM, EDT

Manufacturers Display Safety Technology in D.C.

Fran Matso Lysiak/Transport Topics

WASHINGTON — Manufacturers of vehicle safety systems, including those for heavy-duty trucks, displayed their latest wares here for the benefit of federal policymakers and the national press.

Members of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association gathered in the rainy parking lot of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to show how cars and trucks can avoid calamity through vehicle-to-vehicle communication and autonomous braking and steering — much of it driven by software fed with imaging from cameras and radar.

“We’re looking forward to supporting these technologies,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez, who attended the May 17 event. “Vehicle safety is our highest priority. It always has been and always will be."

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Mendez said DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to show its interest in the field by funding research on cybersecurity for vehicles, communication among vehicles and highway infrastructure, and autonomous driver assistance systems.

MEMA President Steve Handschuh said the advanced driver-assistance systems on display are “the future of mobility,” adding that many of them offer improvements for safety and fuel efficiency.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, of Elyria, Ohio, was the main provider of truck systems at the event. The company offered rides in two Paccar Inc. highway tractors — a Kenworth T680 and a Peterbilt 579 — as well as an IC school bus from Navistar International Corp. The trucks had the Wingman Fusion collision-mitigation system, a current product, and the bus had an automatic electronic parking brake that is scheduled for roll out in 2018 on trucks and buses.

Fred Andersky, a Bendix director who works on customer solutions and government-industry relations, said Wingman Fusion combines basic electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control using a camera and radar. In addition to rollover and swerve protection, the system can monitor the road, even reading highway speed limits. It automatically slows the truck when needed, even bringing the truck to a stop if the driver is unable to do so.

Product Manager Rebecca Carter said the new parking brake is easier to set and release than a traditional version, but its main attribute will be the fail-safe aspect that it never forgets. By using in-seat sensors, if the driver stands up without setting the brake, the electronic system does so automatically.

Other systems on display included automated emergency steering control for passenger cars from the TRW division of ZF North America.

Delphi displayed vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems for cars, and a driver fatigue-monitoring system for a car, but that could also be used in a Class 8 truck or even a freight train locomotive.