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Updated 10:00 AM February 9, 2009

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UMTRI will test crash-warning system for commercial trucks

The U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) will begin field testing an integrated crash-warning system installed in the commercial trucks of Ann Arbor-based Con-way Freight.

The testing is part of the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety System program, a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Department of Transportation. The IVBSS technology fully integrates multiple crash-warning features, including forward collision, lane departure and lane change-merge warning systems into the commercial truck platform. It provides drivers with situational awareness of the vehicle's surroundings and warns drivers when they are about to inadvertently leave the roadway, are in danger of colliding with another vehicle while attempting a lane change or are at risk of colliding with the vehicle ahead.

"We're excited to launch the field operational test," says Jim Sayer, IVBSS program director and UMTRI researcher. "After more than two years of research, development and verification testing of the integrated system, it's gratifying to see the system functioning as part of Con-way Freight's fleet. We are optimistic that the testing will demonstrate the safety benefits of integrating multiple crash-warning systems."

IVBSS uses information gathered by inertial, video and radar sensors, plus a global positioning system, to warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations to prevent or lessen the severity of crashes. UMTRI will launch similar testing of systems for passenger cars in April.

Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload carrier and subsidiary of Con-way Inc., recently purchased 10 Class-8 tractors equipped with the IVBSS technology. Over the course of the next 10 months, 20 Con-way Freight truck drivers will operate the trucks out of the company's Detroit service center as part of its normal business operations, logging an estimated 700,000 miles. Data on driver response to IVBSS will be recorded along with extensive data collection on naturalistic use and the driving conditions. Researchers will then use the data to evaluate the potential safety benefits of integrating multiple crash warning systems.

"We are committed to the safety of our drivers and the motoring public, and joining UMTRI in this effort is an excellent way to support that," says Bob Petrancosta, vice president of safety for Con-way Freight.

In addition to Con-way Freight, UMTRI's program partners for the IVBSS commercial-truck research include Eaton Corp., TK Holdings, International Truck and Engine Corp., and Battelle. The cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation is administered by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with assistance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Program funding is provided by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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