Kay Morschheuser is awarded the 2020 European Safety Award for Commercial Vehicles.
Accident research at Mercedes-Benz Trucks has existed for almost 50 years. Kay Morschheuser spent 32 years of his life working in this field with the task of making road traffic safer. Together with his team at Daimler Trucks, he has played a decisive role in the development of innovative safety systems such as Emergency Brake Assist and Sideguard Assist.
For his work, the long-standing Head of Commercial Vehicle Accident Analysis and Safety Strategies at Daimler is now being honoured by the European Association for Accident Research and Accident Analysis (EVU), the German Road Safety Council (DVR), and the expert organisation DEKRA who have jointly awarded him the European Safety Award for Commercial Vehicles. The official award ceremony has been postponed until 2021 due to the Corona pandemic.
Commercial vehicle accident research plays a central role at Daimler Trucks when it comes to improving active and passive safety in trucks. Detailed accident analyses of real accidents are an important basis for continually incorporating further improvements into vehicles. Accordingly, road safety in the commercial vehicle sector has made considerable progress in recent decades.
Head start through research
In the development of safety and driver assistance systems Mercedes-Benz Trucks has been playing a pioneering role for some time. Numerous systems have been installed in the individual model series long before such systems became legally required. For example, as early as 1981 Mercedes-Benz became the first manufacturer to introduce the anti-lock braking system (ABS) for trucks. Anti-slip control (ASR) followed a few years later. Together with the launch of the first Actros in 1996, Mercedes-Benz Trucks again set the standard with its electronic brake system (EBS). Proximity Control Assist and the Lane Assistant followed in 2000 as further revolutionary safety systems, and then, in 2001, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) for trucks. Together with the second generation of the Actros, the hill holder as a starting-off aid and the brake assistance system made their début in 2002.
In 2006 Active Brake Assist (ABA) heralded a new era for safety assistance systems: for the first time a truck could automatically brake for slowly moving obstacles in front. The following years witnessed the consistent further development of ABA. Today, within its system limits ABA 5 is capable of carrying out emergency braking when encountering pedestrians crossing its path, approaching from the front, walking ahead or suddenly halting when startled. Also deserving mention is Sideguard Assist, available on the market ex works from Mercedes-Benz Trucks since 2016 and contributing to the avoidance of accidents with pedestrians and cyclists. From June 2021, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will be the first manufacturer to launch a so-called active turning assistant on the market which isn't just able to warn the driver in the event of stationary or moving cyclists, e-scooters or pedestrians being detected on the co-driver's side, but up to a vehicle turning speed of 20 km/h, it can also initiate automated braking of the vehicle down to a complete standstill if the driver fails to react to the warning tones.
Finally, analyses in accident research led to the idea of Active Drive Assist, which, from 2018 allowed partially automated driving for the first time in a series-production truck. These analyses also led to the MirrorCam superseding conventional main mirrors and wide-angle mirrors. Although the systems may differ in character, one thing unites them: together they create as safe a work environment for truck drivers as possible and, within system limits, help compensate for the sort of human error at the wheel that is unavoidable in hectic everyday driving – to the benefit of all road users.
Kay Morschheuser studied mechanical engineering in Hanover, where he specialised in automotive engineering and, at the end of his studies he worked in the accident research department of the Hanover Medical School. After graduating in 1988, he joined Mercedes-Benz AG as a test engineer in the field of commercial vehicle safety investigations. In the 1990s, he worked predominantly in airbag development for trucks and also carried out truck crash tests in this context. From 1998 he was responsible for accident analyses and safety strategies in Daimler's European truck development department. In this role he was involved in international road safety work concerning commercial vehicles in a wide variety of contexts. At the end of October 2020 he entered partial retirement.