Interactive Safety… It’s Coming, Says Daimler
We have long relied on Passive Safety to keep us protected; things like seatbelts and airbags, products and systems that were put in place to help avoid or lessen injuries that could occur in an accident. But we needed more. In recent years we have seen the addition of Active Safety; backup cameras, forward-looking radar, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, all designed to prevent accidents from ever happening. And while these advancements have certainly made the roads and highways safety, we still need more. Motorists need more protection on their daily commute to work. Truck drivers need the backup and reassurance that their truck and workspace is safe for themselves and others. Daimler thinks it has a solution: Interactive Safety Systems.
Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) believes it holds the key to the next wave of safety technology. “We see (interactive safety) as the next level of vehicle integration,” Diane Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy with Daimler. “Interactive safety is looking at the truck as part of a network.” Daimler says the trucks that employ the systems that come next will be able to do all the above, in addition to actually protecting the vehicles around itself by using vehicle-to-vehicle communications and other up and coming technological advancements. Hames said “Now, it’s not just the truck that may be reacting to a hazardous condition on the road, but the vehicle in front of them may be able to react as well. This is the world we’re going to next.”
Daimler has developed two Freightliner Inspiration Trucks to serve as concept vehicles, modeling existing technology in a new working relationship with each other. Hanes said its like a human’s central nervous system; it’s many systems working and communicating together for optimal performance. It uses Highway Pilot, which can be compared to an extremely fancy cruise control system that uses cameras and radar to keep the truck in its lane, assist with steering and braking and avoid collisions. “What we’re trying to create going forward is, how can we apply these technologies in different ways and with different technologies to come up with different solutions that ultimately provide a safer driver environment and more efficient, better integrated vehicle with the driver?” Hames said
The system still requires a driver, but more in a managerial position, to take over when needed, monitor the driving, handle paperwork and be removed from the
monotony of sitting and staring at the road. Hames said, “What we’re really talking about is creating an environment where the driver is able to focus on the things that really are important and not that tedium of sitting there looking down the highway holding that truck between the lines for 10 hours a day.”
Hanes makes it clear drivers will not be replaced when autonomous trucks become the standard; they will be enhanced. “The human eye can see only so far in one direction and some peripheral vision,” she explained. “You add to that multiple cameras and multiple radars focused on specific things and the driver now has capabilities beyond human capabilities…the truck can react much faster than the human driver so it increases the driver’s capabilities.”
Hames said that eventually, trucks will come standard with all these new systems and each vehicle will communicate with each other as part of a collaborative network. Daimler’s goals for their Innovation Trucks is to push for these new safety innovations and let the trucking industry and governing bodies know what is really possible in this new world of safety. The truck is becoming smarter, making the driver more capable of doing his/her job well, without accident. “Interactive safety. You’re going to hear more about it in the future,” she said.