Brutal conditions, bright futures: Bendix winter testing drives safety technology advancements

Advanced driver assistance systems and electronic braking are among tomorrow’s trucking equipment being tested today

Houghton, Michigan, averages more than 18 feet of snow a year, and on about 100 days annually, the high temperature doesn’t get above freezing – which makes it just about the perfect place for Bendix to test and develop the commercial vehicle technologies that will drive tomorrow’s safer trucks in North America and around the world. “Pushing technology to verify its operation in extreme conditions that can be experienced on the road is a vital part of Bendix’s testing, so we do everything we can to help make sure drivers are equipped for the most challenging conditions, including ice and snow,” said Mike Tober, Bendix vice president – Brake Control NA. “Our team has been going to Houghton for over 30 years, and it’s been crucial in the development of every Bendix component and system.”

“From antilock braking, full stability, air dryers, compressors, and air disc brakes all the way up to our most advanced-generation Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ camera-and-radar-equipped driver assistance and active steering – we’re constantly evolving our current technologies and developing new ones so that we can deliver safety and performance everywhere they’re needed.” Tober noted that North American vehicles are frequently also part of the rigorous testing that takes place in Arjeplog, Sweden, each year through the collaboration of the global Bendix and Knorr-Bremse engineering teams.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems is the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles. It has been a proud member of Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse – the global market leader in braking systems and other rail and commercial vehicle systems – since January 2002. “What you see coming out of winter testing – which includes close participation by our fleet and OEM partners – are advancements that continue to support our technology roadmap and help pave the way for more of the future of advanced braking and driver assistance systems and beyond,” said Richard Beyer, Bendix vice president – technical sales and vehicle systems. “For instance, one such advancement is improving the way a system compensates for a failed steering actuator in Level 4 (L4) functions, using the electronic braking system (EBS) to steer the vehicle even on snow or ice while keeping the vehicle on the intended path. These redundancies for L4 are necessary for the vehicle to complete the maneuver.”

EBS controls brake pressure electronically with every brake application (the driver demand from the brake pedal is sent electronically to the braking valve to supply the demanded pressure), versus antilock braking systems (ABS), where that control signal is pneumatic from the pedal to the foundation brake. It has been in use in Europe for almost three decades and is expected to become a fixture in North America as adoption of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electric-powered vehicles increases. It is also a foundational building block for L4 automation. “It’s far more than just coming up here and skidding trucks around on a frozen track,” Tober said. “Winter testing in North America and at other locations around the world is a major part of our multifaceted commitment, with Knorr-Bremse, to being a global technology pioneer – and to help ensure that the men and women who transport goods get home safely at the end of the day, no matter how harsh the driving environment is.”

Bendix emphasizes that safety technologies complement safe driving practices. No commercial vehicle safety technology replaces a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and proactive, comprehensive driver training. Responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle remains with the driver at all times. Through its ever-growing portfolio of commercial vehicle technologies, Bendix delivers on safety, vehicle performance, and efficiency – areas critical to the success of fleets and owner-operators alike. Along with unparalleled post-sales support, Bendix strengthens return on investment in the equipment and technologies that help enhance safety and lower total costs of vehicle ownership.

Source: Bendix

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