Safety Makes Dollars And Sense

Friends and Partners of Spartan,

Safety and uptime are key metrics for fleets—their duty cycles require them to work in all weather, day, night, paved and dirt roads. According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), refuse trucks are involved with over 1400 injury accidents per year with an average of two deaths per week.  We can all agree that the loss of life is tragic and should itself be a call to action, but there is another cost to these safety infractions – the actual financial cost of accidents can drive the fleet owners out of business. The FMCSA breaks down average truck accident costs this way: basic health and property damage: $334,892; when a semi-truck is pulling multiple trailers: $1.2 million; when a semi-truck accident results in fatality: $7.2 million. These are big numbers!

Why is this? Even though safety and uptime are key metrics for fleets, they have some environmental considerations working against them.  They need to move fast to meet tight schedules, and often operate at night, in low-light conditions, in challenging scenes, or in the presence of dust and dirt. In addition, the machines often have a limited view and large blind spots, which poses a threat to the safety of it and the people around it. Virgil Mercer, a 30-year fleet expert, shared a few of the safety challenges he faces when operating mining vehicles: “Sometimes, operators get sensory overload. In busy environments, you can hardly get any work done because you’re so busy trying not to run over people.”  To further illustrate, when you look at the sides of an excavator machine, you’ll usually see how banged up it is – that is from this immensely powerful piece of machinery hitting something that it probably didn’t want to hit.  

Unfortunately, because of the relatively small volumes of commercial vehicles produced each year (compared to the numbers of passenger cars), they haven’t received the creative and custom development needed to meet their stressing needs; their volumes just don’t intersect with the business models of traditional automotive Tier 1s. While we see more and more types of safety features rolling out for passenger cars, commercial vehicles seem to get left behind.  Fortunately, Spartan’s speed and expertise has allowed us to develop the solutions needed in these important spaces, and our first product to improve commercial vehicle safety is the Hoplo radar, software, and display system.  

Hoplo is a collision avoidance system designed from the start to be a disruptor (in a good way!) for safety.  In our testing, Hoplo’s 79 GHz, high resolution sensor has both a higher probability of detection and a lower rate of false (nuisance) alerts over a wide field of view – the key metrics to look for in a radar. In addition, our display system is both informative and intuitive, providing segmented reporting to give the driver true situational awareness of potential vulnerable road users and obstacles. In addition, it seamlessly integrates with many vision systems currently on vehicles. I am super excited about what the Spartan team has done to create this transformative product, and our team has already received orders for several thousand Hoplo systems.  

Our customers love the intuitive in-cab display and flexible installation because it minimizes vehicle downtime and driver training, while ensuring the safety of their fleets. Returning to the story of Virgil Mercer, after we installed and demonstrated Hoplo’s capabilities on his CAT Road Grader he told the Spartan team, “I really think this will be a game changer. You can concentrate on what you’re doing, and not worry about what’s behind you because you’ll be alerted.”

At Spartan, our mission is to be both transformative and enduring by unlocking the full value of radar for safe and reliable movement of people and things. If you want to know how Hoplo can help you move your “things,” please reach out to me; I am always happy to talk radar with anyone!


Dr. Matt Markel

CEO, Spartan Radar

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