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.”
Sensors are being used for both human and automated vehicle operation. As autonomous vehicles rise to prominence, the idea of sensor fusion spurred on by this innovation is being incorporated into today’s human-machine interactions. Think of autonomous vehicles as the far end of the sensor fusion spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum is the fusion of sensors that exist today in operator controlled equipment. For example, most new vehicles are being produced with camera/monitors integrated into the equipment. By fusing this passive technology with active sensor technology, such as object detection radar, the operator is notified of a potential hazard and then, utilizing the information from both technologies, can take action to avoid an accident. The fusion of the two result in the safer operation of the vehicle.
Another example of sensor fusion includes blind spot monitoring sensors and haptic technologies. Especially valuable for long-haul drivers, lane-departure warnings can sense and signal when a vehicle drifts across the lane and provide a touch based warning, like the feeling of driving over a rumble strip. One in five truck fatalities are linked to unintended lane departures, so this simple fix saves real lives. Blind spot monitors on both passenger vehicles and heavy-duty equipment drastically help diminish casualties.
The integration of radar, camera, brake assist, and more add up to provide some of the most advanced collision mitigation technology out there today. By fusing multiple sensors with other safety technologies, heavy-duty equipment can better face potential threats. With a fully integrated safety solution, you can prioritize alerts in order of importance, like warning of a collision alert before an over-speed alert.
Automobile accidents cost the US $518 billion and 1.3 million human lives. Technology innovations are driving down those statistics. As heavy duty equipment safety systems are increasingly integrated through sensor fusion, roads and worksites will become infinitely safer places to operate.