Mercedes-Benz Trucks celebrates the technological premiere of Blind Spot Assist
Sven Ennerst, Head of Global Product Engineering and Procurement at Daimler Trucks, explained the system to journalists in Wörth today. “The development of Blind Spot Assist is now finished from a technological standpoint,” he said. “At Daimler, we have always been concerned about trucks having collisions when turning corners. However, before we launch the system on the market, we first have to extensively test and validate it. This means that the system still has to undergo hundreds of thousands of kilometers of testing and to be adapted to a wide variety of vehicle variants. People expect the technology leader to create pioneering solutions - especially when it improves active safety, which has top priority at Daimler Trucks.”
Truck accidents declining thanks to assistance systems
The tendency is clear, and it is a positive one: in the past years and decades transport undertaken by the road transport sector has significantly increased. At the same time the number of road users injured or killed is in steep decline if one considers accidents involving trucks.
In Germany, for example, the volume of road transport traffic has increased by around 80 percent in the last 20 years. In contrast the number of seriously injured in road transport has fallen by more than 44 percent, and fatalities even by over 56 percent. It is very remarkable that the figures began to decline rapidly from around 2000, as trucks started to be equipped with assistance systems such as Stability Control Assist and Proximity Control Assist for which Mercedes-Benz was above all the driving force.
Now that modern assistance systems prevent, lessen or warn of typical truck accidents like coming off the road and rear-end collisions, in the next stage it is accidents which occur when turning off that are becoming the focus of attention. The four correctly adjusted exterior mirrors on the passenger side do give a virtually complete view of road users alongside the truck. But even the best truck driver can overlook pedestrians or cyclists if they enter the truck's lane while the driver is checking the situation with a brief look ahead or to the left. This is aggravated by poor vision due to the weather or the time of day, and the risk of being distracted because of the increasingly hectic conditions in the hustle and bustle at intersections.
The unequal relationship between trucks, pedestrians and cyclists
Danger occurs through the extreme differences in mass ratios when there are unintended encounters between trucks and pedestrians or cyclists. The result: every fifth pedestrian killed in an urban setting dies in a collision with a truck. In an extra-urban location the proportion of those who lose their lives is around 10 to 15 percent.
As expected the contact points in accidents with trucks are concentrated on the co-driver´s side whilst turning right. This is where the first collision occurs in an accident in significantly more than 50 percent of the cases.
The new Blind Spot Assist from Mercedes-Benz will save lives
On its own initiative, but also due to feedback from customers, Mercedes-Benz has therefore developed the new Blind Spot Assist for trucks. It can and will save lives: the German Insurance Association, for example, currently assumes that with Blind Spot Assist around half of all accidents between trucks and pedestrians or cyclists can be avoided. It believes that the number of associated fatalities could be reduced by almost a third.
Blind Spot Assist from Mercedes-Benz also helps when changing lane
The new Blind Spot Assist from Mercedes-Benz is capable of even more: it warns the truck driver about other road users not only when turning off; it also warns about imminent collisions with stationary obstacles – for example signs or lamps – and also serves as an assistance system when changing lane to the co-driver´s side up to the permitted maximum speed.
A radar sensor monitors the entire passenger side of the truck
The heart of Blind Spot Assist is a radar sensor located in front of the truck's rear axle on the co-driver´s side of the vehicle. The system is arranged in such a way that it covers the entire length of a semi-trailer or a truck and trailer combination. In addition this strip is even extended forwards to two meters in front of the truck.
The aim: always inform, warn if necessary
Aim of Blind Spot Assist: to inform the driver if an object is located to the side. In a second stage drivers are warned if they initiate or continue action and there is the danger of a collision.
If there is a moving object in the side monitoring zone the driver is informed visually. In the A-pillar on the co-driver's side at the driver's eye level an LED in the shape of a triangle is illuminated. The lamp draws the driver's attention intuitively towards the situation alongside the vehicle. If there is the risk of a collision there is an additional visual and acoustic warning: the LED lamp flashes red several times with a higher output, and a warning buzzer sounds on the side in question.
If the sensors detect a stationary obstacle such as a traffic light or lamp in the tracking pattern of the truck during the process of turning off, there is also a visual and acoustic warning.
This comprehensive support for the driver occurs over the entire speed range of the truck from standstill – at a traffic light, for instance – to the permitted maximum speed.
Information and warning are given depending on the situation
Information and warnings are given depending on the individual situation:
- The driver is alerted by an optical signal if a moving object is on the passenger side of the truck in order to make him or her aware of the other road user’s presence.
- If there is a discernible intention to turn off – use of the indicator/steering angle – the driver is informed about the risk of a collision.
- When turning corners, Blind Spot Assist gives an additional warning about the danger of a collision with a stationary obstacle, such as a traffic sign or a boundary post, by monitoring the tracking pattern of the semitrailer or trailer.
- At higher speeds Blind Spot Assist takes on the function of a lane-change assistant. The driver is also informed about an object on the passenger side or warned about it when using the indicator or crossing the lane marking. This means that Blind Spot Assist provides support when changing lane, for instance when overtaking a cyclist in an extra-urban setting, or when changing lane on multi-lane roads.
Mercedes-Benz – Pioneer for safety and assistance systems
Mercedes-Benz is traditionally a leader when it comes to launching safety and assistance systems in trucks. This applies to the anti-lock braking system ABS in 1981, acceleration skid control ASR (1985), the Electronic Braking System EBS and roll control (both 1996), to adaptive cruise control and Lane Assistant (each 2000), stability control (2001), Brake Assist (2002) plus Active Brake Assist (2006) and advanced versions of it. The trucks bearing the Mercedes star were always out in front here: Mercedes-Benz Trucks brought to market all the main safety systems years before there was a legal obligation.
The background to this is accident research as well as dynamic technical development. With Mercedes-Benz accident research the company has been operating what is virtually a unique institution since 1970. When truck accidents in conjunction with a Mercedes-Benz occur, experts attend with a special accident recording vehicle and analyse every detail.
Over the years this has resulted in a unique pool of knowledge which is stored in an in-house database. Today it contains more than 12,000 cases. They include 4300 accidents investigated in detail, as well as some 4200 data records on minor damage, based on the company's CharterWay fleet. The complex investigations and documentation are the basis for the safety technology of tomorrow, for example Blind Spot Assist.
Credits: Daimler AG
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