WABCO Vehicle Control Systems demonstrated at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September an extension to the OnGuard collision mitigation system with active braking that was launched earlier this year in North America. OnGuardMax, claims the Tier 1 supplier to heavy-duty commercial vehicles, is the industry’s first system for autonomous emergency braking (AEB) in collision-imminent situations with moving or stopped vehicles.
The new AEB system minimizes the response time for a vehicle to brake in such situations and can bring the vehicle to a full stop. Integrating data about road traffic from two sources—video and a laser distance sensor—OnGuardMax processes the information using an algorithm to enhance object dimensioning and anticipate imminent danger. It simultaneously interfaces with braking and other systems in the truck such as the engine, transmission, and stability control to assist the driver.
“OnGuardMax has reached the necessary accuracy in the detection of vehicles through our sensor data fusion,” said Jacques Esculier, WABCO Chief Executive Officer, at the IAA 2008 in Hannover, Germany. “We combine the accuracy of a distance sensor with the accuracy of image processing, and the result is a breakthrough in accuracy for driver assistance.”
Esculier pointed out that the original OnGuard is based on a single source of information—radar. It does “not have that double source of information that allows us to validate that there is a vehicle in front of the truck” as with OnGuardMax, he said.
“That’s the basis of differentiation versus other offerings out there,” agreed Jean-Christophe Figueroa, WABCO Vice President, Vehicle Dynamics and Control. “We have the radar—LIDAR-based—mounted on the bumper, and a video camera mounted at the center of the windscreen…. With two signals, then you can be sure that there is an object so you won’t have false coverages, which is very important.”
According to Figueroa, rear-end and junction collisions account for nearly half of all commercial-vehicle accidents, and OnGuardMax helps prevent or at least mitigate these collisions through a sequence of warnings. First, a warning tone and lamp alert the driver, followed by a haptic signal—a brake jerk—and engine torque limitation if no action has been taken. If the collision then becomes unavoidable, full brake application up to a full stop occurs.
The camera range is around 50 m (164 ft) and it works under all conditions. But Figueroa reminded that it is a video camera, not an infrared camera. “So if you have deep fog that you don’t see at 5 m, there will be a signal ‘no visibility’ or ‘low visibility,’ because what the eye can’t see, the camera cannot see either,” he said.
The AEB system can go as far as to detect a motorcycle but not pedestrians or bicycles. “The LIDAR can’t tell the difference between a pop can and a truck. It just simply sees reflectivity,” explained Kurt Lehmann, WABCO Vice President, Product Development. “It’s the camera that then takes the shape and can process what that possibly could be. To be able to start doing that for humans, there is an incredible next level of processing power that would be required.”
In the next couple of years, OnGuardMax will add lane departure warning to its repertoire. Beyond that, “you can start thinking about convoying, like elephants-in-a-row type of thing,” said Lehmann. A major benefit of convoying, he noted, would be more stable fuel consumption because vehicles could go at the same optimal speeds, for instance.
OnGuardMax will launch in Europe in 2010. “Once we start to sell the device in Europe, there is nothing that will prevent us from offering the same thing to U.S. customers,” said Esculier. “We believe that ultimately the U.S. also will rule [as the European Union has done already] for a system like this to become mandatory for heavy trucks,” but not before 2014, he added.
Esculier said a price for the technology has not been finalized yet but admitted that “it’s going to be an expensive device, for sure. It’s not something that is simple; it touches a lot of technologies.”
WABCO is “actively speaking to quite a few manufacturers” about the integration of OnGuardMax into their future trucks and buses.