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Operational coverage area of Preco Electronics' PreView Side Defender side-object detection and collision-warning system (Source: Preco Electronics).

Side-object detection for OTR vehicles displayed at Conexpo 2017

Preco Electronics invented the vehicle-backup alarm in 1962 and now seeks to set a similar safety milestone with the PreView Side Defender technology the company showcased at the Conexpo 2017 trade exposition in Las Vegas. The company calls the radar-based side-collision-avoidance system “the industry’s most-advanced side-object-detection solution.”

Targeted at over-the-road vehicles but also suitable for off-road applications, PreView Side Defender provides audible and visual alerts to avoid or mitigate collisions with pedestrians and objects in the side blind spots, an area in which the company said accident frequency is increasing. The range can be from 3 to 8 m (10 to 26 ft) from the vehicle sides and up to 6 m (20 ft) fore and aft.

Matt Wood, vice president of global sales for Boise, ID-based Preco, said light vehicles’ increasing development of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) has been instrumental in causing the commercial-vehicle sector to more intensively examine the possibilities for new collision-avoidance technology.

“Frankly, the auto industry has helped open the eyes of the construction and commercial vehicle industry,” Wood said.

He said Preco initially began with a reversing “solution” for avoiding collisions, but quickly realized that its long experience with radar could extend the idea to the side blind spots while traveling forward.

Object detection, side-turn assist to enhance safety

The PreView Side Defender system already is used by roughly a dozen OEMs, several of which displayed vehicles using Preco technology at the Conexpo 2017 event. The range included a cement mixer truck and concrete pump truck demonstrating the Side Defender technology and other commercial vehicles employing Preco’s rear-object detection and even a tele-handler with radar-based active braking operator assist.

Wood said the PreView Side Defender is designed to feed its 24-Ghz frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar signal to the vehicle CAN bus via the SAE J1939 protocol, making the information available for several potential ADAS-related safety advances. He said that although the system is effective in recognizing objects in the side blind spots, it still is difficult to differentiate between pedestrians and solid objects. For now, the system is able to “ignore” stationary objects down to a speed of about 10 mph (16 km/h), but at slower speeds, “it’s either on or off,” in terms of providing a warning of an object or pedestrian in the blind spot areas.

The next step, he said, is to advance the technology to be able to distinguish, at slow speeds, between a person and a stationary object. The current PreView Side Defender setup operates in two modes: in highway mode, the system alerts to vehicles in the blind zones but ignores stationary objects to mitigate the instance of “nuisance” alerts. In slow-speed mode, the system seeks to provide side-turn assist “aimed specifically at reducing the incidence of collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in urban environments,” the company said in a release.

PreView Side Defender was introduced last fall and is now showing up in various OEM applications. Wood said the system also is available for aftermarket fitment and can be combined with its Sentry radar-sensing technology, as well as camera-vision systems, to generate a 360-degree sensing environment.

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