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Humans are apt to fear change but when a positive future depends on that certain change, it forces them to adapt. In this episode, we discover that industry adoption of active safety technologies such as air disc brakes, collision mitigation systems and lane departure warnings is on the rise. Fleets that implement these technologies see lower insurance costs, reduced collision rates and significant return on investment. So how quickly will fleets invest in the latest active safety systems and emerging automated steering features? What is the hold up? Join host Seth Clevenger as he travels to the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show to sit down with experts from Wabco and Bendix to find out what it will take to get fleets to utilize the latest advances in vehicle safety.


Mike Hawthorne is President & CEO of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (BCVS).  He is a member of the three-person Bendix Executive Board.An established entrepreneurial and visionary leader with far-reaching international experience, Hawthorne delivers passion for the customer, strong strategic vision, and a proven track record for optimizing business performance and sustained profitability.

Jon Morrison

Mike Hawthorne

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Guest One, Jon Morrison

Episode Transcript

Dan Ronan: This episode is sponsored by Great Dane Trailers. From Transport Topics in Washington, D.C., this is RoadSigns. Here is your host, Seth Clevenger.

Seth Clevenger: Thank you for listening to RoadSigns, the podcast series from Transport Topics that examines the trends and technologies that are shaping the future of trucking.

In this episode, we're going to take a close look at the growth of active safety technology for commercial trucks. Collision mitigation systems and lane departure warnings can prevent crashes by automatically applying the brakes or alerting the driver when the vehicle's straying out of its lane. But even though these technologies have been available for many years now, the trucking industry is still split between fleets that are equipping their trucks with these safety systems and those that still are willing to pay the additional costs. So what will it take to spur broader adoption of active safety technology? Will these systems eventually become an industry standard? And how will they improve in the years ahead? We'll set out to answer those questions in this episode.

To learn more. I recently sat down with executives at two major suppliers of truck safety technology during the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta. I spoke with Mike Hawthorne, CEO of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, as well as Richard Beyer, the company's vice president of engineering and R&D. I also discussed active safety technology with Jon Morrison, president of WABCO Americas. Let's go ahead and play these interviews.


Seth Clevenger: We're here in Atlanta at the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show. And we're very excited to welcome Mike Hawthorne, who's the CEO of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, as well as Richard Beyer, vice president of engineering and R&D, Bendix. Thank you both for joining us.

Mike Hawthorne and Richard Beyer: Thank you for having us.

Seth Clevenger: So active safety technologies such as forward collision mitigation and lane departure warnings have been on the market for years now and a growing number of fleets are purchasing them as they order new vehicles. But overall, industry adoption remains still somewhat limited. So I want to get your take on what are the actual numbers right now?

What are the adoption rates, the take rates for active safety systems on the market today and new Class A trucks?

Richard Beyer: North of 45 percent.

Seth Clevenger: Is that right? And you know, when you look at the scope of trucking companies out there, of course many of the large fleets are using active safety systems and have been using this technology for many years now. But adoption rates are lower for medium-sized and smaller carriers. Could you guys talk about the factors that you believe matter most for that segment of the market and what it'll take to see more adoption on that part of the industry?

Richard Beyer: Yeah, I think it's a combination of things. But when you look at the larger fleets, they know their costs to the tenth of a penny on everything from fuel, tires to brake maintenance. They see a direct payback on being self-insured and they see the immediate payback for elimination of rear-end collisions and things like rollovers. So those really had to have a big impact for their bottom line. The smaller fleets may not have the capability to have that level of data and to prove to themselves that, hey, this really does have a payback. And the fact that typically they're not self-insured, they're using the commercial insurance industry where some of those savings take a little longer to trickle down.

Seth Clevenger: And Mike, I'll ask you to provide a maybe an overview of how the industry has changed, I guess, adoption rates over time. Do you feel like we're nearing a turning point or maybe the point at which we'll see, you know, true mass adoption?

Mike Hawthorne: I think at the moment you're starting to find that the industry accepts collision mitigation is a necessary part of how you operate in the environment. And as people have become more custom and believe that the systems are working properly, it's become almost an expected type of function on the truck. I think, as Richard was saying, the big fleets have adopted it. So we have a lot of data now that shows the benefit that exists with that type of technology. And now it's a matter of trying to be sure that that same type of data is available so the smaller fleets can see it. And I think they'll adopt that as well. I don't think we're that far away from this just being a standard feature on most trucks.

Seth Clevenger: OK. And of course, any successful rollout of active safety technology whether it's collision mitigation or lane departure warnings, this requires buy-in from the drivers to have a good deployment. And of course, we've all heard stories of drivers who are maybe at first resistant to new technology in the cab. And they have to have experience before they really understand it and come to accept it. What do you find is really key to gaining driver acceptance of technology that ultimately does help them improve safety?

Mike Hawthorne: I've seen a couple of things in my career that speak to how human beings just accept change as anything is different. Eventually becomes somewhat rejected because it is new. And then you have to show that it actually produces the outcome that you want and then people become comfortable with it. One of the areas that needs, has needed, and needs probably even further information is when we have false positives, so the system is designed to actually create a safer environment and sometimes it may detect the hazard that doesn't exist. Now that creates a different type of experience for the drivers. So you have to both reject the false positives and you have to continue to show the improvement in how it brings a safer working environment to the operator.

Seth Clevenger: And how much improvement have you seen on that? The false positives. I mean, how much has that declined as the systems have been refined over the years?

Richard Beyer: When you look at our latest systems that are called Fusion, where you're using camera and radar together, the false positives for actual intervention are really close to zero. It's like .0001. And that's a big deal because as Mike mentioned, these safety systems, you need to make sure that they're doing the intervention when you need them. And then when you're not supposed to intervene, you don't want it because you can lose the trust of a driver extremely quickly.

Mike Hawthorne: Sure. It's important to point out, too, that as we look at our driver assistance systems, they're designed around having the driver have a more safe operating environment. So we're not looking at replacing the driver, we’re looking at augmenting the environment in which they operate. And I think for them, it's going to be important because as they want to rely on technology to do a better job, we have the technologies that can help.

Seth Clevenger: Absolutely. And along these, the same topic, you know, FMCSA recently announced a project aimed at promoting the adoption of ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, as a way to improve highway safety. And, you know, the agency will be partnering with industry groups like American Trucking Associations and TMC as part of that effort. But I want to ask you, in the supplier side of the industry, what will it take for a project like that, using education and promotion to really achieve these goals and move the needle on the use of this technology in this industry?

Mike Hawthorne: I think there's probably a strong commercial element that says once you can provide the data and show that business case stands, that you can actually reduce the operating costs for that particular truck. Now, you've got a reason to get engaged because the money's there, to be very clear. I think as you come further into the decision on how you want to adopt it, it's going to be doing the qualified stories to say in an instance, this particular situation was presented to the driver and the system helped avoid an accident. You know, up to and including something that could have been very, very difficult. Right. So that has a quantified effect. When you talk about the commercial aspects and the qualified effect, when you just talk about the safety of engines.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. It appears that, you know, unlikely, at least in the near term, that active safety, whether it's automatic emergency braking, will be mandated by the government. You know, of course, we've seen electronic stability control, but the latest and greatest technology, it looks like it's going to be based on the business case. The business case will have to stand and fleets will adopt it based on return on investment. So I'll get your thoughts on what you how you view the business case and the return on investment for collision mitigation. I mean, obviously, you don't know how many accidents necessarily you might have prevented, but you can you can start to look at that. What are your thoughts on the ROI for this type of technology?

Richard Beyer: Well, I think we can actually go a little step further because we have a system called Safety Direct that sits behind our Fusion system. So when you have close calls, you're actually sending one information to the back office telling the safety managers you've had a close call, but then also you're taking video, 10 seconds before and after the event. So you can see if you had a close call with a vehicle and there was a CMS intervention or AEB intervention, you see that that would have been a collision. So you actually are seeing when you have these systems and then safety direct processor comes with the fusion systems, you have that data available. Right. So you can see it. And one point I just wanted to add to where you're talking about the take rates, when you look at the business case, it's the total the life cycle of the product. Just like with disc brakes and some of the other safety technologies, as they become more accepted in the marketplace, they're also going to be sought after on used vehicles. And then the residual sale value of those vehicles is going to increase where it's not seen as a hindrance, right. And when those used truck buyers start asking for those types of systems, it's going to also drive the take rates when you get the new vehicles.

Mike Hawthorne: And in this concept of your insurance rates are set, the experience that any company or an individual has really reflects what the risk is associated with operating that vehicle. In this case, a better experience with collision mitigation systems is going to provide a better insurance rates at some point than a collective data is going to provide a statistical view. Right. So before and after you're going to statistically but less likely to have an accident or an incident that's going to make the business case work.

Seth Clevenger: Also, what I ask you guys about fleets that haven’t spec’d safety systems in the past. Maybe these are smaller fleets that are operating on pretty thin margins and maybe they just don't think that they can afford to invest up front and in a full collision mitigation system, where would be a good place for them to start? You know, would it start with air disc brakes or maybe automatic tire inflation. What would be a good first way to kind of dip your toes into safety technology if you're brand new to it and maybe don't have a lot of capital?

Richard Beyer: Well, I mean, if you look at even today, disc brakes is definitely a good place to start. But a vast majority of the on-highway tractors today at least have disc brakes, a standard on the steer axle. And then you have the option to go all the way around the truck. And that as a foundation, whether you want collision mitigation or other system, you put on it after, because now you're doing active braking. You now have a superior brake. That's going to slow the vehicle down more and faster than, say, a drum brake solution. So that adds to that benefit. And then it looks it also has to look at a fleet, look at their CSA scores. Are they a very safe fleet, do they have very good training programs? Now, you can supplemented with that safety direct system that I was mentioning that can now be used to help train the drivers to operate safely, because in the all end of this, you still cannot replace a good, safe operating commercial vehicle driver. These are supplemental systems to help drive when you're not and, you know, not being attentive to make sure that you stay in a safe place.

Seth Clevenger: And I do want to go a little bit further with air disc brakes. Just how important are disc brakes for the future growth of active safety technology? You know, this is often you know, they're often viewed as a sort of the building block for more advanced systems. So how important is it for the industry at large to go further with closer to full adoption of air disc brakes compared with, and where are we now in terms of adoption today compared with drum brakes?

Mike Hawthorne: Two things that I think you want to look at when you're trying to move toward an automated system. The actuators in this case with the disc brakes need to be predictable and air disc brakes are infinitely more predictable than drum brakes. So when you ask for the brake, you get it and you know it's going to be performing at the same level every time. The other is status. You need to be able to know that the maintenance stage of that brake is adequate for the task. And as you move toward more machine automation, you have to know for sure that all of the elements required for the truck to move safely are going to be available. So air disc brakes are predictable. And the technologies that are coming now to ensure that you have a good health state of that particular actuator are also coming on line.  

Seth Clevenger: One of the newest developments in onboard safety technology is the very beginnings of active steering starting to make its way into the industry. You know, one of the first examples of that will be Lane Keeping Assistance similar to what we've seen for a few years now in the passenger car market. But what are your thoughts on how soon this might become widely available in commercial vehicles and what do you expect from uptake there? Do you think that fleets will see the value in automating steering and having some steering assist?

Richard Beyer: I mean, when you look at a Class 8 vehicle, it's a little different than in the past car. It's a little bit of a toy, fun to play with. I like to play with mine, but the systems that are in past cars are nowhere near the level that they would need to be in commercial vehicles. However, when you look at the options, I mean, there's things like crosswind compensation or road crown compensation have nothing to do with lane keeping. Right, but are very much take a stress off the driver. If you have a very strong crosswind, which can cause a driver to have to fight the steering all the time. So it’s functions like that can be very beneficial. But in our opinion, when you look at the long term, look at interactive or call it machine steering or a level beyond level three or four, we see that there is when steering really takes off, steering at the level two area on a commercial truck, it's more of a driver convenience feature. And remember, these are still level one and two systems, the driver still the main driver. And having a, like a lane departure. We have lane departure warning today, which doesn't have steering intervention, but adding lane keeping puts an actual, you can have a haptic interface back to the driver and actually correct the vehicle back in its lane can be beneficial. But then you have to look at the payback versus like spending it on a collision mitigation system or whatever. It's now you're starting to get a little bit more of icing on the cake until you go beyond level three.

Seth Clevenger: OK. And what other types of new capabilities will we see in the next generation of, say, Wingman Fusion and active safety systems on the market? What's next? What are the next big steps for you at Bendix? And what can fleets expect to see in the near term, say, the next few years?

Richard Beyer: Yeah, you're going to have much better sensing capability, more around the vehicle when you start talking about functions like highway pilot where you're operating partially automated and let's say divided highway configurations. Now you have to have sensing all the way around the tractor-trailer to be able to sense when can I do a lane change automatically? Those types of things. And those are coming. And that's going to come from improved sensing capability, both cam radar front, cam radar on the sides of the vehicle. And then there has to be intelligence on the trailer along with communications and architecture to see what's going on behind the trailer and all that coming together in allowing that vehicle to operate in a highly automated driving type of operation.  

Mike Hawthorne: I think you're also starting to see some of the improvements in processing power so that all the sensor technology is coming together. You're also able to put more information into a microprocessor, get a better view on what's going on around you, execute algorithms that are going to be more important so that automation can be executed properly and the building blocks then become appropriate so that we can see an evolution towards redundancy. Safety cases are written and the building blocks that we're incorporating today will become what's necessary, first of all, safety systems to be executed tomorrow.

Seth Clevenger: OK. And then just before we run out of time, I do want to take a step back and look at the big picture of driver-assist technology, which, of course, is the, you know, the mainstream use of this technology. And of course, we'll continue to advance in the years ahead versus the push for highly automated vehicles, which we see from certain tech startups. And on some level, some of the truck makers are working on that as well. But I want to get your perspective, at Bendix. What are your thoughts on the path forward for this industry? Do you see a path for both approaches for four ADAS and highly automated or will one be the clear winner as we look at that?

Mike Hawthorne: I really think that ADAS is the predecessor to highly automated driving. And as you see this, I call it an evolution because I expect you're going to find more and more interaction between the machine and the driver in a way that keeps that whole environment safe. And that underneath is leading us all to understand better how a truck moves -- truck motion control, the dynamics around what trucks do in different situations. All the data collected around that, whether safety, direct concept, some of the startups that you referred to are learning tremendous amounts about how trucks actually operate out in the wild, as it were. And from that, they can start to build the artificial intelligence algorithms that can then in the long term be appropriate for highly automated driving. But I think ADAS is here for a long time. And I think that things like corner cases that you can't necessarily anticipate until you actually have it and it's a very rare event are going to necessarily have to be captured, incorporated into the ADAS systems so that then they can eventually become part of the highly automated driving system.

Seth Clevenger: That last 1% of the unusual things happen that can happen on the road.

Mike Hawthorne: Much further down, much further past zero point zero one.

Seth Clevenger: That's the, you know, the one in a million situations that are so hard to program for if you can't even anticipate it. Any final thoughts you'd like to leave us with as we look to the future of this industry?

Richard Beyer: It's a very interesting time. It's going to be a lot of fun over the next five to 10 years. There's a lot of things changing in transportation.

Mike Hawthorne: I'd say it's amazingly exciting. I think at this point I'd be interested in coming back 10 years from now and just looking and seeing what do we say it would happen if we actually were close at all in predicting it.

Seth Clevenger: Well, I certainly agree with you there, and I'm certainly well published enough that I'll be on the hook for that. I'll be eager to put that in the time capsule as well and see how we all did. But I really appreciate it, Mike and Richard, for taking time out of a very busy trade show here to share your thoughts and definitely very eager to see what you guys have up your sleeves moving forward.


Seth Clevenger: We're here in Atlanta at the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show, and we're very pleased to welcome Jon Morrison, president of Wabco Americas. Thanks for joining us. So I want to take some time to discuss take rates for active safety technologies like collision mitigation and lane departure warnings. Those systems have been on the market for years now. But overall, industry adoption is still is somewhat limited. So I want to start with your take on where we stand now, what are take rates, what overall deployment rates in the Class 8 trucking industry today.

Jon Morrison: Well, first of all, when we talk about safety systems, again, I think one of the things that we're very excited about is the fact that take rates are increasing. And I think we see that for many customers, the payback is there when they see not only what they are mitigating from the standpoint of accidents and injuries and, you know, the tragedies that happen on the road. But also from a business perspective, when they look at how they're managing risk and their overall risk profile, I think they're seeing, you know, quite good results from the technology as it is today. And as you know, things like collision mitigation, for example, started over 10 years ago. I think that experience factor that we have is carrying on to other technologies like lane departure warning, like side object warning and even active steering where the receptivity for safety systems is also increasing. But still, there's this time period that we need in order to be able to experience the technology, see what it does, and factor it into a particular customer's fleet application or OEMs strategy. When we look at take rates, specifically, collision mitigation systems now are probably in the 40 to 50 percent minimally on class 8 vehicles. And this is essentially on a voluntary basis. They are standard at many OEMs, but they're still the delete option. So you can delete it off of the spec if you want to. In many cases, the dealers, for example, the dealerships won't specify on stock trucks or they may have arrangements with certain customers to be able to do that. And that does help the take rate. But right now, it's about half the trucks. Class 8 trucks right now are being built with collision mitigation. So that's really powerful when you consider the number of trucks that we're building. Right. And also we see collision mitigation now migrating into the medium-duty sector. So this is also something that we're involved in, and that's a function of both just the time it's taken to release the technology as well as there are certain things on the medium-duty side that are unique that have to be overcome in order to be able to get that technology to deploy.

Seth Clevenger: So we really are approaching that 50 percent mark, where about half the trucks are being equipped with this technology. It does feel like an inflection point and we're getting closer to that tipping point. But we do see that, of course, many of the large fleets have been using collision mitigation for many years. But adoption rates are lower for more of the medium-sized market. Moving down to small carriers, what do you think it will take to boost adoption rates across that segment of the industry?

Jon Morrison: I think it's a couple of things. One, I think certainly the word of mouth and the experience from the larger fleets where they see the benefit. I think in many cases, larger fleets are self-insured. So I think that's a more direct ROI for them to experience. I think for mediums and smalls we still have to see the insurance companies, I think recognizing the benefit. In the case of collision mitigation, it's common to see accident reduction rates of 70, 80, 90 percent. In fact, we had one fleet in our office a couple of weeks ago and they were nearly 100 percent reduction in rear-end collisions. If they'd implemented the technology in 2016. So that kind of benefit, I think has to translate into the insurance world in terms of their actuals and their statistics. But I do think, I did hear a story where one insurance company was not raising rates anymore. So I do think for the small and medium fleets where they are, they're paying their own insurance. I think connecting that into the insurance industry and enabling them to see a business benefit along with the safety benefits, I think is important for further adoption.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. So when you think about the return on investment, you of course, you're reducing crashes and you see, of course, the cost of crashes has gone up. And in some of the settlements and jury awards we've seen lately, and it can definitely scare some midsized businesses. You know, one case might even sink your company. Are you hearing more and more that from from some of your newer customers?

Jon Morrison: I think that what I hear more is, for example, we've launched collision mitigation. As you said, it's been in the market for a long time. I think people, inherently, the customers there inherently understand the benefit. But now we see more where we're coupling that with video capture, for example. And so that systems able to trigger certain critical event videos. And this is where I see that connection being quite powerful from the standpoint of helping to mitigate not only risk but also mitigate, you know, the business side of things that come along with accidents. And quite frankly, again, in all cases the fleet just wants to know what happened, and I think that's the important thing, is to understand in the video capture, along with the data that you get from the sensors, really gives you that pretty accurate picture of what happened. And I think this is a really powerful way to move that forward and help them help the police be more competent if something tragic does happen. At least they know what happened and they can reconstruct it well and then they can manage that appropriately with the combination of the sensors and the video.

Seth Clevenger: Okay, and FMCSA recently announced a project aimed at promoting the adoption of ADAS, advanced driver assist systems, as a way to improve highway safety. And the agency will be partnering with industry groups like American Trucking Associations and TMC. As part of that effort. But what are your thoughts, Jon, on what it will take for a project like that that's focused on promoting the technology and educating the industry about the technology? Well, what will it take for that to really succeed?

Jon Morrison: I think we're always in favor and we do support the DOT in many aspects from the standpoint of education, providing awareness to them and understanding of the technology. And I'm excited about the fact that FMCSA is being proactive in terms of putting a program like that out there. I think the industry needs to embrace it as well from the standpoint of helping to connect both the government and the industry to the benefits of the technology, the payback. Early in the days when we were looking at stability control, and collision mitigation, there were several studies that were done by the DOT to look at the payback. And I just think anything that they can do to broadly create an awareness, not only at a federal level, but a state local level, then that helps, you know, in terms of driving an understanding of the technology and the awareness. And as we said, when we get to penetration levels of 50, 60 percent. If you go back to stability control, for example, we don't advocate a mandate. But what really pushed it to nearly 100 percent was that ultimately it became an NPRM and the DOT made it required. And I think when we look at the cost benefit and we look at where that technology can go, I think programs like this can help get that awareness level up and get a broader understanding that will help us move forward, you know, to get those higher adoption rates.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. And it does seem that at least in the foreseeable future, the adoption will be based on the business case rather than a mandate that stands in contrast to Europe, where there is more regulation and a government mandate toward active braking, automatic braking as a soon-to-be requirement. But the approach in the U.S. government has been more to promote and support and let the business case stand for herself.

Jon Morrison: And we're totally comfortable with that. I think, again, the business case is quite strong. I think it's again, it's on us to continue to promote and to educate. But again, when we get for example, I get FMCSA or DOT to also be promoting and supporting them. Again, I think that endorsement is quite important to get people to the business case because certainly the business case for safety systems is there.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. Now, for fleets that haven't spec’d safety systems in the past, maybe the ones that do uncheck that box as they're ordering trucks, maybe they're operating on thin margins, maybe a smaller company that doesn't necessarily think they can invest in a full system. What would you say is a good place for them to start to move in that direction? Would it be, you know, air disc brakes? Would it be something else that they can start spec’ing in greater numbers to enhance safety if they aren't going to go all the way to a full collision mitigation system?

Jon Morrison: I think what's good is the state of the art of the technology today is one where you're pretty safe to start wherever you feel comfortable. In many cases, each fleet has their own challenges, depending on how they know where they're running and what they haul and all that kind of stuff. But in the end, if you take disc brakes, for example, we've really seen quite a maturity in terms of that technology. We're at Wabco actually launching our fifth generation of single-piston braking technology. So from a weight reduction and performance perspective, it's quite a powerful proposition. But we also have to and we're obligated to reduce the cost differential between drum and disc based on that payback. And that's what we've been working very hard to do because we realize it's a business and it's not required, but it's really better braking and it's better stopping distance. It's better performance. The drivers like it better. So we have an obligation to make sure we try to narrow that cost differential because these guys run a tough business. But it's still a pretty safe bet to choose that technology because it's very robust and the service network is now filled with parts and the vehicles can be serviced anywhere and things like that. So I think, you know, whether you pick collision mitigation whether you pick disc brakes, I think with where we are with technology today, it's fairly well proven and I think it comes down to what you're doing in your business and how it can benefit.

Seth Clevenger: In another recent development we've seen with active safety is the early stages of steering control start to work their way into this industry. Just tell us your thoughts on how much of a difference this will make for the industry. Once you start to look at controlling some level of automatic control for steering as well, not just braking acceleration.

Jon Morrison: This technology is so exciting, Seth. Because when I look at the driver and I look at there what they have to do to drive a truck day in, day out, one of the most amazing things about the active steering technology is it really makes the driving experience a lot better for the driver. We have wind damping control, we have road crown compensation. We have what we call bump control, which is basically on a bumpy road. The steering wheel is not jostled. The technology and electronics, by electronically controlling that steering input, gives the driver basically a seamless feel to driving. So when we look at driver fatigue and driver comfort, you know, it's really an amazing contribution to overall comfort and safety in terms of driving the truck. Then we can integrate that with the safety systems like the collision mitigation system, like the side object detection, like the lane departure radar, where in that instance a driver might be just distracted for a few minutes or a second even if it starts to drift out of the lane without the turn signal on. It's going to gently pull you back in. It's not a hard jerk. It's going to guide that vehicle back into the lane. And the technology is as such today. We always want that driver engaged. So it's not like it's fully automated steering. Right. But it's going to be there as a backup and certainly enables a much more seamless feel to steering and keeping the vehicle within the lanes going down the road, even if for some reason you might be slightly distracted. It will also pick up and the driver hasn't really put much input. And therefore, if we did have some type of drowsy driving or distracted driving, the system itself is going to come back and ask the driver to get re-engaged. So those things, I think, are really powerful for a driver as well as for a fleet.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. Now, I’d like to just open it up a little bit to talk about other new developments that Wabco, what are some other new products and features that you'll be introducing to the market soon?

Jon Morrison: Well, we're very proud to introduce our new intelligent trailer program we call IABS and it replaces our existing trailer ABS platform, which has been out there for over 15 years. What we've done there is we've really added a lot more opportunity to draw data and vital vehicle information off of the trailer. And we see the trailer becoming a much more important part of the overall combination. As we look at safety systems, we look at brake balancing, we look at how we control an overall vehicle combination and we can do this independent power unit. So basically the trailer IABS can not only provide the ABS braking, but can also provide a lot of data information via a can network. Now back through the track in order to be able to transmit that the operations, whereas before we might have had to transmit that wirelessly or download from a PLC. Now we can do it, do it really real time through the can network, which is really a breakthrough in terms of really now connecting the trailer fully into the truck operation, enabling a fleet to be able to see the entire truck trailer combination and get that vital information that comes off of it. So we anticipate that there'll be some really interesting data and information products will be generated from that. In addition to the fact that it's just it's a better system. You know, it's taking advantage of a lot of technology and a lot of robustness that we've learned over time in terms of connectors and durability and just ensuring that, you know, that brain that's on the back of a trailer is safe and sound and is going to be there no matter where that trailer is.

Seth Clevenger: Understood. Now, another development that's been big news in the industry was a ZF Group's agreement to acquire Wabco. Was announced earlier this year. The deal hasn't closed yet, but we're all watching it closely. And I know there's only so much you can say about it, but I am eager to hear your thoughts on the possibilities of that merger between Wabco and ZF.

Jon Morrison: Sure. Well, first of all, we're really excited. We announced the merger on March 28. And since that point in time, we've been going through the process, as you might imagine, of getting the two companies merged. Our shareholders at Wabco approved the merger at the end of June. And right now, we're in the process. There's fairly various regulatory and procedural things that have to happen that we have to take care of globally. And that's what we're doing right now. So the team’s working on that, but we're also working on a level of integration planning so that when we hit day one. People know what to do, know how to do it. We're not working together, we're not allowed to do that, but we can plan things and talk about how things can be when we get started. And that's really exciting because when you see that coming together and you see what both Wabco and ZF in the commercial vehicle space can bring, it's going to be a very large player in the commercial vehicle space. But more importantly is the technology integration and the entire platform from chassis to braking to powertrain really makes it quite powerful. And we're really excited to be a part of that and excited to be a part of ZF.

Seth Clevenger: Well, we'll be watching closely and we'll see how it all plays out. Since we're here at the second edition of NACV, I do want to get your thoughts on the show. What are your takeaways just from your limited time you've had to walk around? I'm sure you've been busy in all kinds of meetings, but from what you've seen of the show floor and the show itself, what are your thoughts?

Jon Morrison: It's really a great place to come and look at technology, certainly. I think that was always the focus was to bring technology to this show. And I think that both the OEMs and the supply base have done that. When you walk around, you can see a lot of new introductions, a lot of new technology. The press conferences, I think are rich in that kind of content. So if you want to come to one place to see it all, this is certainly a place that you can do that. And I think that everyone here is has really taken full advantage of that. So I think it's still a young show. So it's a show that has to continue to grow and really solidify its identity and the whole show process. But I certainly think when you look at the players here or the content and also the technology that is brought into bear when we come here, I think this has a bright future.

Seth Clevenger: And then before I let you go, I do want to have to ask you a final question about this broader pathway toward driver-assist. An automated driving, of course, has been a major topic for the industry over the last several years. You know, of course, we are looking mostly at driver assistance in the near term. But of course, there are other players whose startups there are and to some extent the OEMs that are also looking at highly automated vehicles and the right applications and the R&D that goes into that. So, Jon, I just want to ask your thoughts. How do you view that at Wabco? Are you pursuing both paths or would you see one as clearly the way to go over the other?

Jon Morrison: Sure, sure. Yeah, I think it's a really interesting time because you can't at this stage really pick which path you go. You have to really stay open to technology. You have to stay open to the vision of what full automation might bring. What we're working on is building automated capability. So each block of technology that we add, whether it's in collision mitigation, in ADAS in steering, we want to add those pieces that really progress the vehicle to enable a more automated function again for safety and business benefits as well. When we talk about full automation, there's some really interesting things that are happening there, obviously with certain companies like Waymo, TuSimple and Embark. And as we look at braking what Wabco does. Also, there's some interesting things as the brake system itself has to prepare for that platform and there are certain things like redundancies and failed operational braking. And, that's what we do well. And there's also when you look at how vehicle is braked by a driver, that natural feel is something that's not easy to replicate in an automated world. And I think these are the things that enable us to really partner with the AI companies in terms of how do we get those external inputs that are quite complicated and quite complex and translate them into more of a natural driving and braking operation. I think this is where we come in and we've had some developments relative to software interface between the AI and the brake system layer that helped do that and helped manage that. And I think this is where Wabco really plays well. And again, we've launched and we'll be launching some new brake system enhancements that not only more commonized EBS systems with ABS systems, because you're going to need more individual brake control as we go forward for electrification and automation. But also, again, some of the redundancy, some of the things that we have to have on a vehicle to ensure that there's a backup system in case the primary system doesn't perform in some event. Those are also things that the brake system itself has to move forward and really be prepared to do. And I can tell you that we're working very hard on that right now. We've got some very exciting developments right in the middle of all of it.

Seth Clevenger: Very interesting place to be. And thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us here at NACV and at the TT booth, we really appreciate your insights and thanks again for joining us. Next up. We appreciate it.

Seth Clevenger: Before we close, let's take a moment to reconsider our original question. What will it take to boost adoption of active safety technology and how will these systems improve in the future? As we've heard from our guests, a growing percentage of fleets are speaking active safety systems on their vehicles. In fact, it may not be long until collision mitigation technology becomes near universal. A new Class 8 truck, large fleets that have adopted the technology are seeing a return on investment based on significant reductions in forward collision rates. And over time, adoption will grow as smaller fleets and medium-duty operators also see the benefits of these safety technologies, which could be a way to help address rising insurance costs. These systems also continue to improve over time. Looking ahead, active steering capabilities will represent the next big step for safety technology. But the same question will apply. How quickly will fleets invest in lane keeping assist and similar automated steering features as they reach the market? That's a question that only time will answer. If you've enjoyed this episode of RoadSigns, please let others know rate and review us on Apple podcasts and Spotify. If my questions have sparked questions of your own, share them with me and the RoadSigns team. You can email us at share@ttnews.com. We'll read them and respond daily. And of course, we'll continue the conversation about trucking technology in future episodes of RoadSigns. Until then, I'm Seth Clevenger. Thank you for listening.

Guest Two, Mike Hawthorne

EP. 1

Jon Morrison was appointed President, Americas in June 2015. Prior to his current role, he served as President, North America for American Axle and Manufacturing since November 2014. Before then, he held the position of Vice President Vehicle Dynamics and Controls with WABCO. From 2006 through 2014, Jon Morrison served as President and General Manager of Meritor WABCO, the joint venture between Meritor and WABCO.

Richard Beyer is Vice President Engineering and Research & Development for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix).  His responsibilities include strategic direction definition for Bendix R&D efforts regionally for NA and assist in coordination of Knorr-Bremse global R&D efforts. He joined Bendix in 2001 as manager of technical sales for the ABS product.

Guest Three, Richard Beyer

Richard Beyer