Off-Highway Technology Trends to Pay Attention To

Advancements in the Adoption of Proximity Detection Systems

PRECO Electronics® has seen advancements in a few ways. The adoption of proximity detection systems has been one of the most prominent trends to date. Proximity detection is a solution born of the intention of bolstering the safe operation of machines – designed to improve operator awareness through identifying objects and/or people in dangerous blind spots.

From a market perspective, many big construction companies are leading the way in terms of demanding proximity detection systems to improve safety and operations. The last driving force pushing these big players to adoption and implement these systems is decreased downtime. Downtime is a pain point all companies in the business of heavy equipment are familiar with – it’s all in the numbers. And those numbers are the reason we are seeing the majority adopting these proximity detection systems of their own accord today.

From an OEM perspective, more and more off-highway OEM companies are offering this technology as a standard or factory option on their machines. Particularly machines that do a lot of backing and moving around in confined spaces at an accelerated pace, such as a busy construction site.

Specific Technologies + Current Trends in the Heavy-Duty World

Proximity detection and operator warning systems using sensor technology have seen substantial growth among the heavy-duty vehicle industry due to market drivers. These market drivers include both regulatory entities, societal pressure, and big companies embracing proximity detection technology as a way to establish safer operations, save money, and improve efficiency.

Today, proximity detection technology plays an essential role in the increasing levels of autonomy. In some instances, sensors are now being installed on all sides, integrated into the operator display, creating a nearly 360-degree view within the cab environment. With the integration of proximity detection systems, machines can now detect objects and potential hazards, bringing systems the technology needed to move forward.

For a future of autonomous machines and vehicles to come to pass, they must be able to detect surroundings and navigate accordingly successfully. This trend towards autonomous vehicles may begin with automatic braking at level one, while additional automation levels lead to full-autonomy.

But, just as automatic braking systems must be integrated with proximity detection systems to avoid a collision – fully autonomous vehicles thrive on sensor fusion. In short, the more automation the higher the need for redundancy in perception sensors.

However, because full-autonomy requires significant development, safety initiatives like automatic braking and blind spot detection are more realistic for the time being.

Developing Trends

In the heavy-duty industry, market trends show there are certain countries and industries across the globe driving regulations toward proximity detection technologies, capable of detecting objects and people, be retrofitted on such vehicles.

On automobiles, this technology is standard on many vehicles, and from a business perspective, this technology is being adapted by off-highway OEMs. OEMs are responding to increasing customer demand for the same type of solutions the customers have in their personal vehicles.

Over recent years, we have seen the need for blind spot detection and side-turn assistance systems become more prevalent across the board. Especially as it has become an option on a lot of equipment throughout the heavy-duty industries worldwide.

We find these systems continue to advance with the adoption of such technologies within the automotive industry. The significant difference these technologies make in automobiles is understood and accepted, making its importance/adoption within the heavy-duty industry mainstream. Unfortunately, the deployment is still in process.

Radar: Aiding the Trend toward Furthering Machine Automation

The ultimate goal is zero collisions causing fatalities, injuries, or property damage within heavy-duty industries. Our radar technologies play an integral role in the systems to achieve improved operator safety. Operator awareness, blind spot detection, and collision avoidance are the most significant areas solutions are needed as we work towards automated and autonomous solutions.

Understanding where PRECO stands in this progression towards full-autonomy goes back to the fact that at the highest level, our systems provide perception and sensing of the environment around the vehicle. The first fundamental step toward automation is having an understanding of the environment that is reliable and thus proving technologies such as ours to be a critical piece to automation.

An excellent way to explain how proximity detection systems aid the trend toward further vehicle automation is sensor fusion. What we see now as the path towards automation is sensor fusion: defined as the combining of sensor systems to improve application or system performance.

Sensor fusion, used in this context, can be explained as using the strengths of all other sensors to build a consistently accurate perception system. In a perfect world, this highly precise perception system would be combining multiple sensing technologies, with all of their strengths and weaknesses, in which advantages offset weaknesses so that they are each stronger when they are together. But, much like in the human body, there would have to be some sort of redundancy to keep it going.

In the human body, our survival depends on the integrated activity of all the biological systems. However, certain parts of the human body have been known to pick up the slack if one should fail. The spleen, commonly removed as a result of injury, can be lived without because the liver, and other lymphoid tissues in the body, overlap in functionality and play a role in recycling red blood cells and their components as well. Similarly, humans can survive without a stomach, colon, gallbladder, reproductive organs, appendix, and one kidney. Through our body’s version of sensor fusion, we can offset weaknesses with strengths due to revolutionary redundancy.

For full-automation, perception systems are needed, combining multiple sensor systems to offset deficiencies is vital, and redundancy within sensor fusion is essential. PRECO’s radar technologies are the first step.