If you were to make an analogy between a radar and the human body, the antenna on the radar would be the eyes – it sees what the radar detects. There are many different antenna types that exist today and these technologies are continually growing and becoming more complex. The technologies range from the dipole antenna (2 wires), to patch antennas and, most recently, metamaterial antennas that could, in the far future, provide a method for cloaking. Cloaking, in the context of metamaterial cloaking and electromagnetic (EM) radiation, is when the EM field propagates around the object with the metamaterial properties, or in other words it makes the object seem invisible. Aren’t antennas cool?
Every piece of heavy-duty equipment is different. Designed for specific, and usually logistically complicated tasks, no one-size-fits-all safety package works for every equipment type. By accounting for all of the unique variables associated with a wide range of heavy equipment, object detection systems can fill in the gaps and blind spots in safety practices over a wide range of industries. By integrating radar with other active and passive technologies, the ultimate collision mitigation safety solution comes into focus.
How does it work? PRECO's Tom Loutzenheiser recently gave a forward-thinking explanation to that question in the Idaho Business Review:
“If you look at any of the autonomous vehicles, whether cars or mining trucks, they all have lots of different sensors. There’s this concept called sensor fusion, where you work together to make a smarter vehicle. The human analogy is you have a sense of touch, a sense of smell, eyesight and ears, they all contribute to you being a safe navigator of the world. There’s the same analogy in autonomy. There are multiple sensors coming into play.”
They never take shift breaks. They do the dirty work. They face endless, brutal hazards. Driverless vehicles are on the scene in mining operations around the world and, in an industry that’s remained largely unchanged for the past 30 years, the big question looms, “How will this affect us?” Followed by the immediate concern, “Is it safe?”
First though, how do autonomous vehicles actually work? Under the hood of driverless heavy-duty fleets, you’ll find a combination of sensors, typically using radar and GPS to navigate. The GPS plots the course and mission of the vehicle. For mining operations, unmanned equipment typically moves around a pre-defined course—streamlining rigorous, tedious mining tasks like dumping and loading.
By May 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and over the road trucks. This field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. Let’s take a look at what prompted this forward thinking change in safety regulation.
Once an accident has occurred, you can’t go back. The simple act of backing up a vehicle can turn tragic in a matter of seconds. But these common accidents can be avoided by utilizing a combination of safety technologies available today.