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OEMs Focusing on Making Driver Assist Technology More Friendly

Advanced truck safety – such as “look ahead” camera-radar systems, crash avoidance alerts or ’smart’ braking – are becoming more popular as fleets attempt to mitigate costly crashes and insurance increases. Now, if only they weren’t so darn annoying to truck drivers.

The point is not lost on many commercial vehicle and component manufacturers, who acknowledge that drivers can get irked with such technology, particularly when they first encounter them, reports Fleet Owner.

Depending on the user interface, advanced safety systems in trucks typically deliver warnings in the form of progressively louder and/ or faster beeps, for example, as a dangerous object gets closer.

“One of the things we hear is, ‘well, drivers hate this collision mitigation system because it’s always going off,'” Stephen Gilligan, vice president of marketing at Navistar, tells Fleet Owner. “You could imagine if you were driving a car and you had an alarm that was going off all the time, you would just desperately want to turn that thing off … the challenge for these systems is, how do you make that system do what it’s supposed to do without driving the driver crazy?”

Navistar is working with collision mitigation system companies to explore warning/ alert methods such as haptic feedback — vibration-based interactivity widely used in video game controllers and smartphones, perhaps combined with a flashing inaudible light on the dash – to replace or augment other alerts. The goal will be to deliver an effective “heads-up” to drivers without being bothersome.

While advanced safety systems may gravitate toward subtler warnings, truck drivers will also need time to get accustomed to these latest, more autonomous, safety technologies, Gilligan stresses. He compared the transition to antilock brakes in the early ‘90s.

“It scared the heck out of people (back then). You spent your whole life being told never to slam the brakes on — you feathered the brakes and so on.

“People are comfortable with that technology now, and the time frame [of drivers being uneasy with it] came and went.”

In 2017 and beyond, look for more advanced safety systems proliferating in trucks that feature various levels of autonomous emergency operation. “I think we’re going to see more systems like that that will potentially take control away from the driver,” he contends.

Read full Fleet Owner story here.

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