Centaur Backeye®360 Case Study08 Dec 2015
Luxury Coach Operator, Centaur, based in Crayford, was looking for a solution to vehicle damage due to the rear swing. What they found was Brigade Electronics Backeye®360, which could not only save them money but also save lives.
Centaur has a fleet of 100 minibuses and coaches and is one of the most reliable and secure passenger transport services in the UK. The company operates all over the UK and abroad but has seen a particular increase of challenges when driving in Central London. Congestion and vulnerable road users require drivers to be very skilled when manoeuvring around the city. For Centaur, the biggest problem is with the blind spot due to the rear swing. This creates potential hazards such as collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes and other vehicles.
Matt Sims, Managing Director of Centaur explains: “Judging the point of the rear corners, in relation to traffic behind and to one side, is the most difficult part of driving a big vehicle in my view, and the area most prone to collision and damage on a coach.”
Centaur trialled Brigade’s Backeye®360 Select system on a Scania Omin Express Tri-Axle Coach. Backeye®360 Select is an intelligent camera monitor system designed to assist low speed manoeuvrability by providing the driver with a real-time surround view of the vehicle in a single image.
Drivers were extremely impressed by the system but Centaur’s Managing Director decided to take the vehicle for a test run himself, complete with passengers, to see what all the fuss was about. He said: “As soon as I started the tight London turns around Greenwich, I realised the immense value of the system - especially as I am a relative 'novice' in a tri-axle.”
Backeye®360 Select uses four ultra wide-angle cameras that each covers one full side of the vehicle with a viewing angle of 180°. High mounted on the front, rear and sides, the calibrated cameras capture all of the surrounding area including the blind spot of the vehicle. Matt agrees: “The system, from a driver’s point of view, is brilliant. It seems to eliminate blind spots completely, there simply is nowhere a cyclist or car can 'hide'.”
The four live images are simultaneously sent to an electronic control unit (ECU) where they are instantly processed, combined, blended and stitched. The distortion from the wide-angle camera lens is also auto corrected before delivering a clear, smooth, real-time image on the driver’s monitor.
Matt reviews the day to day usability of the system. “In practical manoeuvring terms, the ability to see a 'birds-eye' view of the coach on a screen in front of you, also means that you no longer need to rely on judgement as to whether the rear overhang is clear before you turn. The fact that you can 'see' if the car alongside is clear of the overhang, or if it is still next to the rear end, makes the driving so much easier and safer.
And it’s refreshing confirmation on the motorways to be able to see clear space behind when you need to apply the brakes (reversing cameras don't really show that as they foreshorten the distance), or to know motorcycles are not alongside when you are about to change lane, or cars who can also vanish in the blind spot.”
Backeye®360 can eliminate blind spots to prevent vehicle damage and reduce insurance claims, thus reducing insurance premiums. Matt attributes the system to cost savings on the Tri-Axle Coach. “I expected a few 'Knocks' with our new tri-axle commuting every day, but after 35000km and some months, I very much suspect that the reason why it's bodywork remains practically as new, is as much to do with this system as our driver’s skills.”
Backeye®360 is set to take over the current generation of camera monitor systems. Matt concludes, “In my honest opinion, it's absolutely going to save lives and with four cyclist and HGV fatalities this year in London - the sooner it becomes mandatory the better. While I'm not advocating it, you could, quite safely, drive without any mirrors if you had to.”