Vehicles are getting smarter, which I see as the road leading to vehicles that can drive themselves, so here is a look at what I have been discovering.  Active safety systems respond to a safety problem or abnormal event.  Activated automatically by the electronic control unit (ECU) they provide improved performance and handling, assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle and avoiding accidents.  Commercial vehicle operators are using Meritor WABCO’s family of intelligent products:  Hydraulic Power Brake; Hydraulic ABS; Electronic Braking System; OnGuard; SmartTrac; and Trailer Intelligence.

Collision Mitigation System (CMS)
Collision Mitigation System (CMS) is part of the Meritor WABCO’s OnGuardCollision Safety System. The system provides driver with both visual and audible alarms through a dash display when following distance is unsafe and could result in a rear-end collision.   If a potential rear-end collision is developing and the driver does not decelerate the vehicle, OnGuard’s Active Braking feature automatically de-throttles the engine, applies the engine and foundation brakes to provide up to 0.35Gs of braking power. This Active Braking application is intended only to provide enough early braking to give the driver time to recognize and react to the situation - the driver must take the appropriate corrective action in response to the collision warning. The OnGuard Collision Safety System will not activate below 15 mph.

If you like details, check out the additional systems literature pages at: WABCO Active Safety Systems Literature

As promised, you get to look over my shoulder as I work on my version of a US Army supply truck that can drive itself.  The 4-H’ers who now share my barn workshop shop with me are a source of inspiration and support for the project and an excuse to keep the shop open, so here is a little bit about what I am helping them with. 

This week the TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club Members are working at home on producing a business plan for their Learn & Earn For Fun and Profit 4-H Business using materials I collected from 4-H and the SBA as a starting point.  Combined they have pledged 40 man-hours to this task and will submit their business plan for review no later than Saturday of this week.  This should be a good indication of how well they work together.  Josh, the club President,  says that he does not want to go back to working on the assembly line at the fruit company to earn money for college, he would rather work somewhere else, perhaps this company that they are forming will be the one.  A junior in high school, he has tentatively picked http://pcci.edu/ as where he wants to go to school for a ME & EE double major. 

Photo from PCCI.EDU website.

No snowbanks in FL 
One of the reasons that he chose a Florida school is that he is tired of the snow and wants to find a warmer climate than Michigan.   Mapquest shows that PCCI in Pensacola, FL is due south from Traverse City, MI with a travel time of 17 hours 50 minutes to cover the 1149.32 miles at a fuel cost of $179.36 by car.  With true engineering efficiency Josh has picked the shortest route to warm weather.

Since he will have to pay his own way through school, PCCI is the most affordable one he has found so far.  The numbers he mentioned were so low that I had to check for myself.  As I suspected there were some fees that they neglected to mention to him, but the additional fees did not change the number he had by much.  Even with the additional fees it looks like it will only cost him $9,000 per year.  This a remarkably low price.   Oh, they are running a special right now, pay for three years, get the 4th year free. The only price lower I have heard about are schools that have a work/study plan where you go to work for the University and your schooling is free.

It looks like the minimum time resident on campus will be about 5 years for the double major.  That will include some summers to get the number of credit hours he will need to graduate.   Some financial assistance is available but he is going to have to come up with the remainder.   His cost for college looks like it will be about $54,000 and with ME or EE jobs paying about $74,920 per year, that is a good return-on-investment.   

Electrical Engineers Earnings:
Lowest 10% $52,990/year
Lowest 25%  $64,910/year
Median   $82,160/year
Highest 25%  $102,520/year
Highest 10%  $125,810/year

Mechanical Engineers Earnings:
Lowest 10%  $47,900/year
Lowest 25%  $59,230/year
Median  $74,920/year
Highest  $25%94,400/year
Highest 10%  $114,740/year

As a group, engineers earn some of the highest average starting salaries among those holding bachelor’s degrees.  In the Federal Government, mean annual salaries for engineers ranged from $81,085 in agricultural engineering to $126,788 in ceramic engineering in March 2009.
 – Source: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm#earnings

Read more about ME careers from Control Engineering in the April 2010 cover story: Mechanical Engineering Career Assessment.

Keep track of TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Clubby developments by joining their Yahoo NewsGroup at: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/join

To subscribe to AIMing for Automated Vehicles as a RSS feed: If you are using Internet Explorer to read this page, go to http://feeds.feedburner.com/CTL-AimingForAutomatedVehicles  and add it to your “Favorites” by clicking the little gold star with a green plus sign in your tool bar, then click on “subscribe to this feed…”. To view the feed in the future you go to “Favorites” by clicking on the little gold star and AIMing for Automated Vehicles should be listed there. Click on it and catch up on what is new!


Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer
American Industrial Magic, LLC
“small engine and machinery repair”
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club
“Science, Engineering, and Technology”
390 4-Mile Rd. S.
Traverse City, MI 49686-8411
(231) 883-4463 Cell
AIM: http://aimagic.org/
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club
CE Magazine: http://www.controleng.com/blog/1180000318.html

Posted by Paul F. Grayson on March 16, 2010

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