Brake Suppliers Invest in Sensing Technology


Source: Transport Topics post

ARLINGTON, Va. – Integrating braking systems with sensors and telematics can enable more timely maintenance, reduce unplanned downtime and optimize component life while supporting “brake health.”

Such integration also is necessary to continue development of advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, which are the building blocks for autonomous driving and truck platooning technology, industry suppliers said.

On both of these intertwined fronts — brake monitoring for maintenance purposes and the development of ADAS — sensors play a crucial role, manufacturers said.

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In the case of truck platooning, where two or more trucks travel together at close following distances, “you want to know what the brake health is on all the vehicles,” said Joe Kay, director of brake engineering at Meritor.

The overall objective is to inform a fleet operator how well the brake is functioning, Kay noted. Of 10 wheel ends on a tractor-trailer, one might not be working well, he said. Wear, temperature and stroke sensors can be used to detect the problem and communicate it.

Brian Marshall, vice president of research and development for Haldex, said that in developing ADAS, the challenge for manufacturers is trying to figure out how to “see” what’s in front of or around a vehicle “and plan accordingly, whether for brake actuation on automatic emergency braking or for autonomous vehicle development.”

Sensors such as cameras, radar and lidar — everything that can be used to detect an object, its speed and its vector— generate perceptions. The braking system technology can then respond to that information.

If rain is falling and technology can detect that the road surface is slick, for example, ADAS could respond by extending the following distance, Marshall said. “That has to be determined by an integrated approach where the brake system can openly communicate and provide data from the wheel end up to the controller.”

But ADAS and automated driving technologies still have a long way to go, said Brett Wacker, a longtime fleet maintenance executive who currently is working as a consultant.

“Sensing is a key component of the future of our industry,” he said. “In the absence of the human, you have to have the ability to know whether things are working or not working.”

SAE International has defined incremental levels of automated driving capabilities ranging from zero to five.

“There’s a lot of talk about getting to Level 4 and Level 5,” said TJ Thomas, director of marketing and customer solutions for controls at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems.

But Level 1, edging into Level 2, is where ADAS for commercial vehicles stands at the moment, he said.

Bendix is working with truck manufacturers on enhancements and new features for its Wingman Fusion driver-assist product that are “enabled by the current level of technology — the current radars, the current cameras,” Thomas said. “As we learn more about them over time, we can enable new features.”

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