October 27, 2016 12:15 PM, EDT

Volvo Trucks Showcases Active Driver Assist; System Uses Alerts, Braking to Prevent Crashes

Seth Clevenger — Transport Topics
MOUNTVILLE, S.C. — Volvo Trucks North America showcased the next generation of collision-mitigation technology available on its trucks and touted the product offering as its latest move to enhance road safety.

The original equipment manufacturer provided trucking journalists with ride-alongs in a Volvo tractor equipped with the Bendix Wingman Fusion active safety system during an Oct. 24 event here at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds.

The technology, which the OEM is marketing as Volvo Active Driver Assist, combines a bumper-mounted radar sensor with a windshield-mounted camera to track both moving and stationary vehicles as well as lane markings.

During the demonstration, the system generated increasingly urgent audible warnings as the truck approached a slower-moving passenger vehicle on the track ahead and eventually applied the brakes automatically to prevent a forward collision. Moments later, the technology brought the truck to a complete and abrupt halt as it rapidly closed in on a stopped passenger vehicle.

Active Driver Assist also includes adaptive cruise control and can provide enhanced lane-departure warnings with the aid of the camera.

Ash Makki, product marketing manager at VTNA, likened the combination of camera and radar to “two brains thinking together to make sound decisions.”

He also said Volvo has integrated the safety system with its trucks’ driver information display, which prioritizes the most critical alerts.

In addition, the system can capture video based on triggers such as excessive braking and hard turns.

Volvo is offering Active Driver Assist on its VNL and VNM models. The truck maker first announced the product option earlier this month at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas.

On a second truck pulling a full tank trailer, Volvo demonstrated how its enhanced stability technology can prevent rollovers, jack-knifes and other loss-of-control accidents.

Fred Andersky, director of customer solutions and director of government and industry affairs at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, said industry adoption of collision mitigation appears to be gaining momentum, adding that these types of active safety systems represent the foundation for further automation on the path to self-driving vehicles.

Andersky, who drove the Volvo truck equipped with Active Driver Assist during the test-track demonstrations, predicted that federal regulators might issue a proposal to require collision mitigation on new trucks within the next few years, which could lead to a final rule around 2021 and implementation around 2023. The technology already has been mandated in Europe.

In addition to Volvo, Bendix Wingman Fusion is currently available on trucks built by Navistar Inc., Peterbilt Motors Co. and Kenworth Truck Co., Andersky said.