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Meritor WABCO launches active collision avoidance system

By James Menzies ORLANDO, Fla. - Meritor WABCO has introduced a new collision avoidance system with active braking, that uses radar to detect when a collision is imminent and takes control of the vehi...

By James Menzies ORLANDO, Fla. – Meritor WABCO has introduced a new collision avoidance system with active braking, that uses radar to detect when a collision is imminent and takes control of the vehicle to safety stop it before a rear-end collision occurs.

The company demonstrated its new OnGuard system to trade press journalists in Orlando recently. It already has installed the system on nearly 200 trucks and the company plans to roll the system out commercially in the third quarter of 2008 as a factory-installed option with several OEMs. Meritor WABCO officials say their OnGuard technology is the first collision safety system with active braking available on North American commercial vehicles.

“This system is an active system,” explained Alan Korn, director of engineering with Meritor WABCO.

“It will not only warn, but will actively intervene and dethrottle, apply the engine brake if necessary and apply the foundation brakes if necessary to achieve a relatively high rate of deceleration.”

He explained a deceleration rate of up to .25 G can be achieved by the system, which he suggested “is going to be able to reduce rear-end accidents.”

Simply put, the system alerts drivers when a pre-set following distance is compromised and, if necessary, it will activate the foundation brakes to safely slow the truck down to restore the desired following distance.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to improve vehicle safety for highways, drivers and fleets, OnGuard was designed to equip drivers with automated features that help ensure safe following distances and provide active braking as needed,” said Jon Morrison, president and general manager, Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems.

“The driver is still the most important element in maintaining vehicle safety however, the system can provide the additional split-second deceleration needed to maintain control of the vehicle in an emergency situation.”

Other systems on the market alert the driver when an unsafe following distance is established through audible alarms and by activating the engine brake – but not the foundation brakes, officials pointed out. The OnGuard system also includes an audible alarm, a visual warning and retarder control. The foundation brakes can account for up to one-third of a full brake application, engineers explained.

Korn insisted the company has gone to great lengths to ensure there are no “false” interventions.

“It’s one thing to falsely warn, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game to falsely brake,”he said. “The technology had to be ratcheted up to minimize false detection. We don’t want to make decisions based on erroneous information, especially decisions that involve generating a deceleration.”

The OnGuard system was designed to be fully-integrated with Meritor WABCO’s anti-lock braking and stability control systems. Morrison explained this is advantageous because a customer can employ multiple safety systems using just one ABS ECU as opposed to having several independent systems, which add complexity.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said rear-end collisions account for over 20% of all heavy truck crashes. In about 60% of those accidents, the truck is the striking vehicle. Driving too fast for the conditions or following too closely are the most common causes, according to the agency.

Meritor WABCO officials said OnGuard can help mitigate those accidents. The system can detect fixed and moving objects at up to 500 feet away. The system uses an algorithm to calculate the time to collision and then takes action when required. Other systems utilize a less sophisticated formula, Meritor WABCO officials said. So far in field testing the units have racked up more than 10 million fleet miles over a two-year period.

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