ABSTATT, Germany – Bosch has developed a system to improve safety for forklift operations, both for the operator and others in the vicinity of operations.
They whiz nimbly down narrow aisles of shelving, transporting heavy loads in production plants and warehouses – forklift trucks are an absolutely essential piece of equipment in modern-day logistics. Their use, however, also poses potential risks.
According to data from the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), more than 12,500 accidents resulting in personal injury and involving forklift trucks were reported in 2018 alone. In one third of forklift accidents, the person injured was the driver; and in 42 percent of cases, the accident victim was hit, crushed, or run over by a forklift.
“With our innovative collision warning system, we are now offering an essential upgrade for increasing forklift operation safety and reducing workplace accidents in this area,” said Andrew Allen, responsible for the Commercial Vehicles and Off-Road operating unit at Bosch.
The collision warning system comprises four compact near-range cameras and a control unit that creates an all-around view of the vehicle’s surroundings and displays this to the forklift driver on a monitor.
Bosch presented the first generation of the multi-camera system for forklifts, which was designed purely as a view assist solution, at the LogiMAT trade show in 2019.
This system already provided a good all-around view, even in the case of blind spots, i.e. restricted visibility, for example, due to the load on the fork or during vehicle reversing maneuvers. The function enhancement now warns the forklift driver about any stationary or moving objects in the vehicle’s immediate surroundings. The alert can, for instance, take the form of a clearly discernible colored area overlaid onto the picture of the vehicle surroundings displayed on the monitor.
In order to enhance the capabilities of the system and develop the view assist function into an effective collision warning system, Bosch analyzed the data from in-depth market research and consulted recognized experts in this field, like those at the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the Trade and Logistics Industry (BGHW). Based on the information gleaned, Bosch identified three typical driving scenarios in which the risk of an accident occurring is particularly high and from this subsequently derived the respective use cases for the warning function.
These insights, alongside other aspects, are flowing into the current development process with the ultimate goal of being able to offer an optimally tailored function in future that meets the assistance requirements of the market.
These include driving off and general maneuvering in aisles and on paths, crossing intersections in warehouses, and maneuvering loads into and out of storage.
“Our aim is to ensure the developed solution only ever provides the driver with relevant alerts that are not distracting or confusing,” said Allen.