Camera-based system avoids blind spot for trucks

July 17, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Though driver assistance systems today are prevalent in commercial vehicles not much less than in passenger cars, the number of collisions during turning remains at an alarming level. Automotive supplier Ficosa has developed a camera-based system that could help to reduce such accidents significantly.

Collisions between cyclists and trucks are a nightmare. In many cases they are fatal. The reason is the blind spot: Truck drivers have very limited all-round visibility; even sweeping installations of rear-view and down-view mirrors failed to change the situation. In a collaboration with a large European manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Ficosa has developed a camera-based system that enables exact traffic participant recognition in road traffic. The company claims that every object, be it a vehicle, a person or other object within the hazard zone can be identified properly. The product is available as a turnkey system, comprising cameras and image processing software. The system displays the objects identified on a monitor in a way that enables the driver to react according to the situation. The software does not only identify objects but also traffic lanes, boundary lines, and light sources.

Currently no fleet operator yet has decided to install the system on his cars. But Ficosa GmbH Jörn Klingmann hopes that not only ethical reasons but pure economy will motivate truck owners to adopt the system. "The acquisition costs pay themselves off very quickly because the additional safety helps to avoid downtime and additional costs through accidents", Klingmann says.

Besides accident avoidance the system can act as intelligent parking assistant and lane changing assistant. What's more, the smaller form factor of the system, compared with typical large external mirrors, air drag during the ride is minimised and fuel consumption is reduced. According to Ficosa, the savings effect amounts to 1.4 to 2.0%.

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