Vulnerable Road User Protection Breakthrough

Providing Vulnerable Road User protection on Heavy Vehicles is now easy and affordable due to advances in camera and AI technology – and sorely needed – claims SGESCO-MAX Managing Director, Scott McPherson.

After visiting Automechanika Frankfurt 2022, followed by a series of development and in-market testing through 2022 and 2023, SGESCO-MAX’s new MAX-SAFE AI solutions have proven their accuracy and suitability for wide deployment across Australasia.

The MAX-SAFE VisionTM AI range of camera-related solutions incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to give heavy vehicles (HV) drivers and fleet managers total visibility and certainty – providing superior vulnerable road user (VRU) protection on roads and worksites.

Individual options are available to detect vulnerable road users and protect pedestrians in blind spots at the front, corners, sides and rear of a vehicle, as well as all-round vehicle coverage in a 360o solution.

External cameras scan areas outside the vehicle and when they identify people, either moving or stationary, the system can alert the driver and people exterior to the vehicle via audible voice alerts and flashing lights. Automatic braking can also be activated in some circumstances, and a recordable monitor added.

The Need for Vulnerable Road User Protection is Urgent – and Greater Than Ever

 Recent developments stress the criticalness of providing protection of vulnerable road users – for fleet managers and for VRUs themselves.

Vru fatalities caused by heavy vehicles drivers is on the rise

  1. The most recent available statistics show that 18% of all fatalities on our roads involve heavy vehicles or buses. (Around 210 people per NHVR figures.) This is not proportionate to the number of HVs on the road. Thus, the risk of being fatally or severely injured in crashes with HVs and buses is much higher.
  2. 26% of the people killed in a heavy vehicle (truck or bus) related fatality in 2021 were vulnerable road users (BITRE figures.)
  3. But, WORRYINGLY, in 2021, truck drivers were at fault in 30% of all heavy vehicle related fatalities. That is a massive 400% increase from 2015 when the figure was only 7% of all HV related fatalities. (The Major Crash Investigation 2022 Report from National Transport Insurance (NTI) and the National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC))

Studies have found that human error (driver inattention or distraction) and blind spot situations are causing and contributing crash factors. 

More VRUS – Less awareness

The impacts of COVID-19, active transport initiatives by local governments, the rise in scooters and e-bikes, and general metropolitan population growth, has seen a rise in VRUs on and near roads.

Many VRUs don’t understand a heavy vehicle’s blind spots and what constituents a safe distance from HVs – as witnessed by the Australian National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s educational campaigns – as well as our own and client in-market studies and lived experience.

A recent two-year Austrian study of heavy vehicles, buses and VRUs, found that VRUs were in imminent risk of collision in 5% of warnings from Blind Spot Monitoring Systems.

Vulnerable road user protection that provides interior and exterior flashing alerts and spoken warnings, such as those delivered by MAX-SAFE Vision AI solutions are providing dual benefits:

  1. They are effective in raising VRUs’ awareness of their own risk, inducing them to move away from potential danger, giving heavy vehicles the space they need.
  2. When HV drivers are alerted to the presence of a VRU they check their in-cabin display and typically modify their driving to ensure the VRU has safe passage around the vehicle.

(H3) Profound Benefits of New VRU Protection Systems

In the last two years the benefits of the latest generation of vulnerable road user protection systems have been startling:

1. 99% Accuracy

A six- month MAX-SAFE trial in Brisbane in the second part of 2023 with HVs delivered less than .01% false detections per day, making the solution highly accurate and reliable. 

2. Non-intrusive Solutions

Drivers are only made aware of a VRU risk when there is an actual risk – rather than an alert whenever they move lanes or turn corners. This makes drivers take prompt notice and be comfortable with the systems as they are not considered a distraction.

3. Audible Alert Effectiveness

Drivers are finding that audible alerts announcing the location of a pedestrian are more beneficial than earlier buzzer systems as drivers immediately knows where the risk is.

4.Improved Driver Awareness / Behaviour 

Research has found that vehicles fitted with blind spot monitoring systems, heighten driver’s consciousness around vulnerable road users, improving driver behaviour and alertness. Blindspot monitoring systems would reduce the number of warnings with vulnerable road users by one third for heavy goods vehicles and 10% for buses.

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Making Driving Easier and Safer for HV Drivers

According to Scott, customer feedback on the MAX-SAFE Vision AI solutions had been extremely positive, with drivers finding the solutions highly valuable.

“They are a quantum leap on the previous generation of solutions in terms of capability, reliability and accuracy. Plus, compared to other systems, they are a true aid to drivers and not fallible to human error. For example, they don’t rely on drivers looking through lens type systems to identify VRUs. This is Smart Technology that makes drivers and roads safer.”

Vulnerable Road User Protection Impacts Everyone

“Nearly every Australian and their families are vulnerable road users at some point,” noted Scott. “We all walk across the road. Protecting vulnerable road users matters – particularly as we strive for Net Zero by 2050.”

‘For any organisation that has heavy vehicles in their fleet, and safety as a core value – and let’s face it – who doesn’t? – then vulnerable road user protection needs to be a safety priority. The risks are high and mounting, while the solutions are available and affordable. There’s really no shirking the issue and avoidance can now have Chain of Responsibility impacts for businesses.

Learn More about MAX-SAFE Solutions for protecting Vulnerable Road Users.

May 21st, 2024 | News | Comments Off