As part of Navistar’s press tour of its recently acquired proving grounds at New Carlisle, Indiana, last month, the builder showed off the optional Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system.
Navistar and Bendix engineers showed reporters how the system actively applies brakes as a Wingman-equipped truck approached a stationary object – in this case, an inflated rubber car sitting on a paved skid pad.
I drove the vehicle, an International ProStar tractor running bobtail. Riding in the shotgun seat, Navistar Engineering Director Scott Smay explained that Wingman Fusion combines radar and camera information to decide what the object is, and take appropriate action.
It first sounds and flashes a warning to the driver, then, if he takes no action, applies the brakes. Smay said it would stop the truck before it hit the rubber car at speeds of up to 25 mph.
I did that twice, leaving my foot off the brake pedal – and yes, the brakes came on automatically and the rubber car remained untouched.
Then I made a third run at 30 mph to see what would happen. Bendix's TJ Thomas, director of marketing, used my camera to shoot video of the experience from the sleeper.
The weather on this day was cloudy, but visibility was good. The system would’ve been far more valuable in fog or heavy snow. It won’t always prevent a rear-end wreck, but it will slow the vehicle enough to reduce damage and injuries, engineers explained.
Navistar is the only manufacturer currently offering Wingman Fusion, but Bendix says it’s talking with other OEMs and expects one or more of them to make the system optional by year’s end.