Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration head Ray Martinez announced Saturday at the American Trucking Association’s Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego the debut of a project that will evaluate and promote advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Martinez said he hoped the two-year project, which will be funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, will boost adoption rates of ADAS while encouraging future innovation.
“This technology is going to lead us [to improved safety],” Martinez said of ADAS suites, which typically consist of functions like automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings tied together by camera and radar sensors.
The program will lean on the expertise found in the membership of ATA and TMC. With the assistance of ATRI, Martinez said FMCSA, through the program, will develop outreach and education material to share with fleets and drivers who aren’t aware of potential benefits of ADAS systems.
“There’s only a few [ADAS] suppliers but I think that’s the whole point [of the program],” said Ognen Stojanovski, chief operating officer of Pronto and co-founder of Pronto.ai. “How do [the systems] stack up and do they do what they say they’re going to do?”
Stojanovski, whose San Francisco-based company developed Copilot – a Level II autonomous system for Class 8 tractors – said the 24 month program can be an important step in validating long-held assumptions that ADAS systems save lives.
“I think a lot of people agree in principle that these systems promote safety, but we don’t have a way to see if the reality is living up to the hype,” he said. “We’ve got to stop with this game; that it’s self-evident that it’s safer because it’s a safety technology. Safer fleets tend to adopt safety technologies just incase, so we don’t know the actual impact of ADAS on overall safety.”
Volvo Trucks North America President Peter Voorhoeve lauded that the program would bring all players into the ADAS space to the same table.
“It is the highest essence that we get more safety on the road. I want everybody to talk about safety,” he said. “The topic itself is too important to be brand dependent. It only becomes more and more important by the year. Safety should be the prime design principle.”
Volvo Trucks North America will roll out later this year – standard on new VNR and VNL models – an updated version of its comprehensive collision mitigation system Volvo Active Driver Assist platform (VADA) 2.0. The system enhances the original VADA platform by integrating radar and camera capabilities to help drivers maintain a safe following distance through alerts and improved traffic awareness, as well as emergency braking to reduce the risk of collisions.
Training and education, Stojanovski said, will be a critical part of the FMCSA’s program because as these systems assume the more of the mundane driving functions, the likelihood that novice users will abuse it increases.
“If it’s intuitive to misuse your product, you should do something about it,” he said. “I think with ADAS, the better it gets the more inclined people are to misuse it and it’s not yet clear that a good training program and monitoring system can affect driver complacency.”