Coming soon, we’re launching Wenco System 6 — a suite of updates to classic systems and a collection of new solutions, including the Fleet Awareness V2X collision avoidance system. Here, Dave Olsen – product manager in charge of high-precision applications and hardware development – talks about the system’s peer-to-peer networking, collision scenarios, and just what V2X means for the mining industry.

So, what exactly is Fleet Awareness V2X?

Fleet Awareness V2X is a collision avoidance system. We have proximity detection already — you can see other equipment within your proximity using Fleet Awareness. It makes you aware of who’s around you, but it’s not a real-time tracking thing. So, to improve it, we built Fleet Awareness V2X, which stands for vehicle-to-anything. It could be mobile equipment, but it could also apply to stationary objects as well, like a lighting plant.

V2XIt uses a little computer with a peer-to-peer radio. Our current version of V2X uses GPS for positioning and a radio modem to communicate between neighbouring vehicles or other equipment. You can take V2X and attach it to any existing Wenco application — whether that’s Wencolite or PitNav or MDT in a haul truck or BenchManager in an excavator, an auxiliary unit. Once you plug that in, the application shows vehicle-to-vehicle proximity detection in real time. We’re updating it 10 times a second — it’s much faster.

That’s a big difference. How does it work?

In its simplest terms, two vehicles drive toward each other and they’re going a certain speed. We predict when and if those vehicles are going to collide. Now, a lot of proximity detection systems use overlapping zones — if you’re inside that zone, you get a warning. We’re not doing that; we’re trying to be a little bit smarter. We take all our information into account — distance, time to collision, EMESRT collision scenarios, the road network from our fleet management system, equipment elevation. So, you’re only going to see a warning if you’re X number of seconds away from that vehicle and there’s potential for a crash.

What are EMESRT collision scenarios?

EMESRT is the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table. They’re a group of mining stakeholders who got together and determined that there are critical situations we need to detect. We’ve defined 13 of those scenarios with our Fleet Awareness V2X. So, when two vehicles approach each other, it’s not just one scenario they’re relying on. Our system knows whether they’re at a road intersection, so they’ll behave different than if there’s two haul trucks on a straight road, or if it’s a light vehicle next to a haul truck as it starts up.

These are specific scenarios you find in a mine, not the same ones you find on the street. One scenario would be a shovel rotating near a dozer. Of course, you need the road network…

What’s different about using the road network from the fleet management system?

Hauler Chasing LoaderIf you’re not using a road network or elevation with the peer-to-peer system, you’re just taking into account the straight line distance between two vehicles. If there’s a curve in the road, it’s more difficult to determine if the machines are going to hit each other. You get a lot more false positives with that sort of system. It goes along with the EMERST scenarios too. Adding all those different scenarios is an attempt to minimize the number of false alarms. If you’re just using range, you can’t tell what’s safe and what’s not. You could be driving trucks side by side, but there’s no potential for collision because they’re not crossing each others’ path.

That’s smart. How did Fleet Awareness V2X come about?

V2X has been a collaboration — it’s not just a Wenco thing. It’s a partnership with Yokohama Research Labs, which is a division of Hitachi Ltd. It’s actually based on the vehicle-to-vehicle system for automobiles they developed, so we started working with them. It’s been excellent and it’s especially helpful to have access to their knowledge. We’re just running a proof of concept at a mine in Australia now and they’re involved with that too, bringing it to a mine site where real equipment is being used under real conditions.

What’s next for Fleet Awareness V2X?

We’re also adding asset tracking to the V2X platform. So, vehicles that are not running Wencolite or Wencomine fleet management systems already can add a box to any other equipment they want to track. They can use it for asset tracking only or they can combine it with V2X. It turns the box into a low-cost solution to track any vehicle on site and provide collision avoidance as well. Any equipment with asset tracking will show up in MineVision [the real-time map application of Wencomine]. Any vehicle without a Wenco system can plug in a low-cost display too that will warn them about collisions. So, there’s one small box that can give that additional layer of safety — with or without other Wenco applications.

What sites could use a system like this?

Really, all mines would benefit from it. It’s another layer of safety you can apply — heavy equipment, light equipment, fixed equipment. You want your light vehicles to have it, because light vehicles around heavy equipment is very dangerous. You want your heavy equipment to have it because a guy in heavy equipment can’t see, he’s got huge blind spots. But, if he’s got V2X, he can see the light vehicles and completely avoid them. It’s a big step forward for safety.

Learn more about Fleet Awareness V2X and the rest of Wenco System 6 at MINExpo International 2016, taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from September 26 to 28. Wenco representatives will show demos of these systems and more from Booth 8955-C in the Hitachi Construction Machinery pavilion.