From the end of 2015, newly registered trucks and buses throughout Europe will have to be equipped with an automatic emergency brake function. MAN already offers these kind of driver assistance systems.
Admittedly, it is improbable that Eberhard Hipp, former Head of Vehicle Research at MAN Truck & Bus, would drive like this on any public road. Yet here on the testing ground, he is aware of how effective his demonstration can be: After starting up the test truck and accelerating the vehicle to 80 kilometers per hour, he leans back comfortably in his seat although his truck is heading toward a stationary car.
Unfazed, the truck keeps hurtling toward the obstacle and then everything happens in a flash: A loud warning signal, alarm lights flashing on the dashboard and a slight reduction in speed—but not nearly enough to avoid the crash. While Hipp gives a meaningful nod, the truck goes into a drastic emergency braking maneuver before finally coming to a halt three car lengths from the obstacle. “It all happens automatically!” calls out the Head of Development in the last few seconds before the vehicle comes to a final stop. At no time was the braking pedal even touched – the driver assistance system intervened.
The system is called automatic emergency brake assist. MAN is currently conducting further research and will develop it up to serial production. Together with a team of 110 employees and six doctorands, Hipp also handles research into fuel consumption and CO2, alternative fuels, hazard perception, and networking of vehicles. Hipp has been with MAN Truck & Bus for 35 years but you would never know it by looking at him: His sharp eyes sparkle when he talks about new research findings and his arms wave about in the air when he explains a technical principle in detail. Eberhard Hipp is held in high esteem by many experts. In 2012, he received the “European Safety Award for Commercial Vehicles.”
While the advanced emergency brake system presented by Hipp is still being developed, MAN already offers its customers a radar-based emergency brake system. All series, from the lightest to the heaviest trucks, and all coaches can be equipped with an emergency brake assist (EBA) system. MAN already meets the EU requirements that call for all newly registered trucks to have an automatic emergency brake function from November 2015.
EBA can identify vehicles in front and stationary obstacles like the tail end of a traffic jam or a car involved in an accident and automatically brake. The aim of the assistant is to prevent serious collisions or mitigate the outcome in such situations. It is much more complex to detect stationary objects than objects moving in front, as performed by MAN’s Adaptive Cruise Control for instance. So why is that? Criteria may not be defined too loosely. An emergency brake system has to be absolutely safe: the system should not trigger emergency braking due to an insignificant detail, as this could make the truck itself a safety hazard. For this reason, the EBA uses a radar sensor on the front of the vehicle below the license plate to monitor stationary objects or objects ahead on its own lane. If the driver does not brake as the truck approaches the object or changes lane, the EBA responds with graduated warnings: First there is a penetrating warning signal and the display blinks, the brakes are filled up in anticipation and the brake lights to warn traffic behind in good time are activated. If there is still no response from the driver, the EBA automatically slows the truck down.
In the new development that is currently being tested, Hipp has combined the radar sensor with a camera system to quickly record obstacles. This data enables the control unit to generate a precise picture of the environment early enough and to track sources of danger – moving and stationary – with the help of algorithms. This enables braking to take place even earlier.
EBA is an important step toward even more traffic safety, even if the former Head of MAN Development points out: “It is the combination of a wide range of different assistance systems that makes driving safer.” Indeed, once again, MAN is already offering systems today that meet the standards called for by transport policymakers in their commercial-vehicle directives for late 2015: like the electronic stability program (ESP) which automatically intervenes using the engine management and brake systems if the truck threatens to skid or overturn, or lane guard systems (LGSs) that warn the driver with a warning tone if it leaves its lane without indicating. Continuous lateral and longitudinal guidance systems go even further, by actively intervening in the steering process to remain in the lane. These are just some of the driver assistance systems that MAN offers and that are presented in the overview below.
However despite all the technology, responsibility continues to lie with the driver. That is important to Hipp: “The driver must always be in a position to intervene with his experience and judgment in cases of emergency.” If he finds himself in a difficult situation just before an accident, he has to concentrate and nothing should distract him. “Once an emergency brake system is active, all sources of information switch off in our trucks. The driver only receives the information that he needs in that moment to prevent an accident,” assures Hipp.
Safe and assisted driving has a great future at MAN since results and findings from many other projects and research series will be used to further develop its assistant systems.
MAN’s designers have long concentrated on assisted, safe driving. A large number of assistant systems have been developed to date.
MAN safety and driver assistance systems are with you every step of the way. From tyre pressure monitoring to the emergency brake assistant, they’re at the ready when you need them. Always.