ZF, WABCO unveil collision avoidance system that autonomously steers trucks around stopped vehicles

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Updated Jun 29, 2016
The Evasive Maneuver Assist system in action in ZF’s Innovation Truck 2016. The concept truck, in addition to being equipped with the EMA, employs an array of future trucking tech, including a hybrid-electric drivetrain, ZF’s lane-keeping Highway Driving Assist system and more. The truck is a European DAF XF.The Evasive Maneuver Assist system in action in ZF’s Innovation Truck 2016. The concept truck, in addition to being equipped with the EMA, employs an array of future trucking tech, including a hybrid-electric drivetrain, ZF’s lane-keeping Highway Driving Assist system and more. The truck is a European DAF XF.

Global truck components suppliers ZF and WABCO unveiled June 28 the next progression in rear-end collision avoidance technology. The Evasive Maneuver Assist system goes beyond active braking systems by giving tractor-trailers the ability to autonomously steer around a stopped vehicle should the truck detect it cannot brake quickly enough to avoid the crash.

The EMA active steering system is the next “critical step” in bringing autonomous vehicles to real-world application, the companies said in a joint statement. The system was announced at a global ZF press event being held this week in Aachen, Germany. ZF CEO Stefan Sommer says the EMA system should be ready for deployment in three to four years.

EMA combines WABCO’s OnGuard active braking system, which has been available in the U.S. market for several years, with ZF’s electrohydraulic ReAX steering system. The EMA system uses sensory data, like radar, to detect a stopped vehicle ahead and offer drivers visual, audio and tactile signals if the truck senses an impending rear-end collision. Should the driver not take action quick enough to avoid the crash — and should the truck detect that road conditions or stopping distance prevent the system’s automated braking system from stopping the truck in time to prevent the accident — the EMA system will take control of the truck’s steering system to steer around the stopped vehicle and prevent the looming rear-end crash. If the system detects that adjacent lanes are occupied, it will brake as hard as it can in an attempt to prevent the crash or at least mitigate the impact.

Drivers can override the EMA system at any time during the autonomous evasive maneuver by simply taking control of the steering wheel, brakes or throttle.

“Our innovative function simultaneously evades, brakes and stabilizes automatically — at all speeds, with any load in the semi-trailer truck and with any type of semi-trailer,” says Mitja Schhulz, senior VP and general manager of commercial vehicle steering at ZF TRW.

The EMA system is designed to find a middle ground between steering too lightly to avoid a crash and too heavily to swerve across multiple lanes of traffic. The system will steer either into an open lane or onto a hard shoulder and bring the truck and trailer to a safe stop, ZF says.

Per the companies’ joint press release: “The system constantly calculates the optimal evasion route and adjusts the steering angle accordingly. The software algorithm continuously monitors and compares the calculated and actual steering trajectory.”

The EMA system also leverages existing electronic stability control systems to prevent rollovers, ZF says.

ZF will offer global media a preview of the system in an on-track demonstration Wednesday in Aachen.