When it comes to highway safety, drivers are on the front lines – and there’s no technology that can replace a skilled, safe driver practicing safe driving habits. Making sure the men and women behind the wheel are supported with the most current, useful information, and helping provide them with the safest vehicles possible are among our highest priorities.
This installment in the Bendix Driver Insight Series explores Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ – our flagship collision mitigation system. It comes standard on a number of major North American on-highway makes and models, and is optional on many others – including vocational, bus, and motorcoach applications. Combining camera, radar, and a vehicle’s brake system, Fusion is designed to help drivers mitigate rear-end collisions. It also delivers adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and speed sign recognition, among other valuable system features. Because we built it on top of Bendix® ESP®, our full-stability system, it also helps mitigate rollover and loss-of-control situations.
How Does It Work?
Fusion’s key components are a forward-facing radar, a forward-facing camera, and sensors in the brake system. The camera and radar combine to provide more information than a radar-only system, which means the system can make smarter decisions and cut down on false alerts and interventions. The brake sensors, as part of the full-stability system – can sense both directional and lateral acceleration (roll) events in order to maintain stability. The system can also apply additional braking power if needed.
Information is a big key: The more the system receives through input, the earlier it can read a situation and assist the driver.
What does all this mean for the driver in the cab? Two things: Alerts and interventions.
To give drivers a heads-up, Fusion provides a number of alerts, including: • Following Distance Alert
• Impact Alert
• Stationary Object Alert
• Lane Departure Warning
• Speed Sign Recognition
Note that some alerts – Lane Departure Warning and Speed Sign Recognition, in particular – may not be available on all makes and models.
Following distance alerts occur when the distance closes between the driver’s truck and a forward vehicle, and timing may vary: Bendix provides nine different settings to address preferences and situations, and the alerts can range from an aggressive, single alert to a series of increasingly aggressive beeps.
Impact alerts are considered the first line of defense in helping to mitigate rear-end collisions, and sound when the system has determined a forward collision is imminent if no action is taken, such as braking or steering. Similarly, stationary object alerts give notice that a stationary object of size is in the lane of travel – they’ll give a driver up to 3 seconds’ warning that they need to steer, brake, or reduce throttle.
Lane departure warnings let the driver know when the vehicle is driving left or right out of its lane. Wingman® Fusion™ delivers both a visual and audible alert. Use of a turn signal lets the system know the move is intentional. This system can be temporarily disabled for 15 minutes in construction zones or other areas where road lines may confuse the system.
With speed sign recognition, Fusion will deliver an audible alert if the vehicle is traveling above 5 mph or more of the posted limit. At 10 mph or greater, the system delivers both the audible alert and a 1-second dethrottle: Just enough to get the driver’s attention – the brakes are not applied as part of speed sign recognition.
The two key active interventions Wingman Fusion delivers are active cruise with braking (ACB) and collision mitigation braking. The first instance occurs when the cruise control is engaged: The system will intervene in order to help maintain a set following distance behind a forward vehicle – typically 2.8 or 3.5 seconds, depending on the settings. If the system senses just a little speed reduction is necessary, it reduces throttle. If more is needed, it will engage the engine retarder; and if even more speed reduction is called for, it will engage the brakes.
Whether the vehicle is in cruise control or not, when the system determines a collision is imminent, it will provide the impact alert and deliver throttle reduction and a more aggressive brake intervention than typically occurs with ACB. Braking can occur on moving vehicles ahead that slow suddenly, or on stationary vehicles stopped in traffic, or to prevent a rollover or loss of control. One thing that Fusion doesn’t deliver is braking on stationary objects – if the system can’t determine an object is a vehicle, it will deliver an alert, but no brake intervention. This reduces false alerts and interventions.
Rules on the Road
Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ -- like all Bendix safety technologies – is designed to complement safe and alert driving habits, as well as driver training. The driver is always in control of the vehicle, so the cardinal rule in the cab is no different than being in a truck without Fusion: Drive normally, safely, and prudently. Don’t “test” the system. If there’s an issue with Fusion, there will be a notification on the dash indicating something like a blocked radar – and that will shut down the collision mitigation braking and adaptive cruise control features, for instance. As we often point out – people don’t “test” the airbags in their cars, and truck drivers shouldn’t “test” collision mitigation technologies on the highway.
Keeping the radar and camera clear of obstructions, dirt, and debris is also important, as is not tampering with the system to disable alerts. Alerts tend to be an indication of aggressive driving, and disabling them can also eliminate the functionality of the system when it’s needed most.
Ultimately, though, as adoption of systems like Wingman Fusion grows, it becomes more and more important to support the drivers who work with these technologies to help keep our highways safe – and that’s always goal number one at Bendix.
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