Forward and Side Obstacle Warning System

illustration of a large truck with a pedestrian and bicke around it


SwRI developed a vehicle safety system for large trucks, which alerts a driver when sensing static or dynamic objects within one of three pre-defined zones: in front of the vehicle or on either side extending back 50 m. The system uses very low-cost cameras in stereo pairs and SwRI-developed object detection and classification algorithms.


SwRI evaluated a number of small low-cost cameras (less than $100) and developed a custom mount for the MARTI® autonomous vehicle and custom stereo vision algorithms to detect and classify objects within the pre-defined detection zones. Objects were classified as static, dynamic, pedestrian, vehicle, or scooter/bicycle. A graphical interface was developed to alert the driver to the position, heading, and speed of objects within the detection zones.

image of a large truck with detected objects around them

Key Elements of Warning Systems

  • Very low-cost cameras placed in stereo pairs to monitor pre-defined detection zones
  • Custom stereo vision algorithms to detect objects in the zones
  • Classification of objects into categories of static, dynamic, pedestrian, vehicle, or scooter/bicycle


Demonstrated on the MARTI autonomous vehicle, the system uses the graphical interface to reliably detect objects within the zone, which on the sides stretched as far back as 50 m. Objects could also be reliably tracked if they were moving, and based on certain matching criteria, the objects could be classified into several specific object types of particular interest to large trucks operating on roadways.

Ryan D. Lamm, Director, (210) 522-5350,