Trucking journalists recently got an up-close demonstration of Bendix’s new Wingman Fusion integrated vehicle safety system. The demonstration at Kenworth’s Technical Center and test track in Mt. Vernon, Wash., was hosted by Fred Andersky, Bendix’s director of customer solutions and government affairs, and allowed editors to see a “live fire” demonstration of the new system under carefully controlled track conditions designed to simulate a variety of real-world driving situations.
Andersky explained that Wingman Fusion differs from previous-generation Bendix safety systems thanks to a new, fully integrated operating system combined with proven safety technologies such as radar, camera, the vehicle’s brake system, as well as SafetyDirect by Bendix CVS. The result, he said, is a comprehensive driver assistance system that can help fleets prevent accidents while coaching and encouraging safe, responsible operation by drivers.
Wingman Fusion is built on Bendix’s ESP full-stability program and offers enhanced collision mitigation, lane departure warning, stationary vehicle braking, and overspeed alert and action. Andersky said this technology combination typically enables the system to assess a situation faster and react earlier while also reducing instances of false alerts and false interventions. By gathering input through radar, video, and the vehicle’s brakes, the Bendix Wingman Fusion driver assistance system creates a highly detailed and accurate data picture using deep, multisystem integration. The system’s camera is powered by the Mobileye System-on-Chip EyeQ processor with state-of-the-art-vision algorithms.
Obeying Posted Speed Limits
Fusion also pushes the envelope in terms of new safety technologies. Most notable was a highly advanced forward-facing camera system that is capable of image-recognition. It can read speed limit signs and compare posted speeds with the vehicle’s actual speed and react accordingly.
“We now use two sources of information together to help the Fusion Wingman system make critical decisions earlier with fewer false alarms to distract drivers, and more robust intervention when it is required,” Andersky said. “One of the new value propositions from this system is that by bringing the camera’s sigh-recognition capability and radar information together, we can compare posted speed limits with the truck’s rate of travel and help the driver avoid accidents or speeding tickets.”
If a truck is traveling at the posted speed limit, nothing happens. If the vehicle is going 5 mph over the posted speed limit, an audible warning beeps at the driver to warn him or her to slow down. If the truck is going 10 mph or more over the limit, the audible alert is combined with a 1-second de-throttle event.
“We know that drivers can tune out alerts over time,” Andersky said. “But drivers also react instantly if their vehicle does something unexpected – even if it only lasts for a single second. So this gives us an additional tool to focus the driver’s attention on the immediate problem and react quickly before something bad happens.”
Making the system more user-friendly was also a key design component on Wingman Fusion, Andersky added. Because Wingman Fusion is now fully integrated and functioning as a powerful, single-unit safety system, Bendix engineers were careful to adjust warnings and present them in a way that would avoid “over-saturating” drivers with alerts.
“The system is able to evaluate and prioritize threats and determine which one demands the driver’s immediate attention,” Andersky explained. “That way, the driver always gets the most important alert instead of an array of alerts to sort through. For us, this is driver assistance technology – not driver replacement technology. We still require a fully alert, and engaged, driver behind the wheel. And this system is designed to help drivers be as safe and efficient as possible.”
Kenworth recently added Wingman Fusion as an optional safety equipment spec for T680 and T880 Class 8 trucks. The demonstrations on the Kenworth track used stationary and moving target cars to highlight the system’s effectiveness. The system can react quickly and initiate aggressive braking in the event of an emergency. Many times, the aggressive braking occurs in time for drivers to take evasive steering action to avoid a collision. But even in the event a collision occurs, Andersky noted, Wingman Fusion reacts quickly and strongly enough that in a worst-case scenario, there is a high probability it can mitigate the damage caused in the resulting accident.
“If there is an accident, and the system can turn an accident that used to result in fatalities or injuries into one with property damage only, fleets still come out ahead,” Andersky said.
“This system is designed to help drivers keep their trips safe and uneventful, and do it with minimal interference,” said Jason Skoog, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “Bendix Wingman Fusion can help drivers maintain safe distances, mitigate collisions with other motorists who change lanes suddenly, and safely operate in rapidly changing and difficult-to-see conditions like snow, rain, fog, dust, or smoke.”
Bendix Wingman Fusion is available as an option for Kenworth T680 and T880 trucks now.