Trucks today are big and getting bigger, and even with cameras and superior spatial awareness, the operators of these leviathans can never be totally aware of potential collision hazards, especially when turning. To help alleviate this problem, Daimler, the truck division of Mercedes-Benz, has introduced a radar-based system that alerts the truck driver of imminent collision danger from anywhere on the entire unobservable portion of the vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz Blind Spot Assist system alerts the driver to dangers when turning corners – and, particularly cleverly – takes into account the tractrix curve (the curve along which the towed trailer moves under the influence of friction when pulled along horizontally) to warn of the danger of colliding with stationary objects such as bollards, power poles, or traffic lights if the vehicle continues on its projected path.
Importantly, the system also aids when changing lanes by alerting the driver by means of an optical signal if a moving object is present on the passenger side of the vehicle. Located in the A-pillar on the passenger side at eye level, a triangular LED lights-up if there is a possible hazard situation alongside the vehicle. If that hazard becomes a collision risk, the LED will flash red and a warning buzzer will sound.
To achieve all of this, the system uses a radar sensor positioned just ahead of the rear axle on the passenger side of the vehicle, and is aligned to scan the entire span of a truck or truck/trailer combination, up to – and including – two meters (6.5 ft) in front of the vehicle.
"The development of Blind Spot Assist is now finished from a technological standpoint," said Sven Ennerst, Head of Global Product Engineering and Procurement at Daimler Trucks. "At Daimler, we have always been concerned about trucks having collisions when turning corners. However, before we launch the system on the market, we first have to extensively test and validate it. This means that the system still has to undergo hundreds of thousands of kilometers of testing and to be adapted to a wide variety of vehicle variants…"
Of course, Blind Spot Assist for Mercedes-Benz motor cars – such as the CLA Class – has been available for some time, but the added features and operation of the version specifically for trucks involves a much greater set of testing and development.
No details as yet on when the first commercially-available truck will feature the Blind Spot Assist system.