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S3 Separate Steering System using NI Smart Camera

Contact Information

University:Vocational Training, Robert Bosch GmbH , Germany
Team Members:Nadine Müller, Timo Joos, Lucas Wildermuth
Faculty Advisors:Mr. Benjamin Held
Primary Email
Primary URL:
Primary Telephone Number:+49 (0)711 81157182

Project Information

Project Title

S3 Separate Steering System using NI Smart Camera

Parts List

NI LabVIEWEasy-to-use graphical development environment
NI 1744 Smart CameraHigh-Resolution Machine Vision Solution, Monochrome 1280 x 1024 CCD image sensor, 533 MHz PowerPC processor
NI USB-621016 AI, 16-Bit, 250 kS/s, 4 DI, 4 DO, M Series Multifunction DAQ, Bus-Powered
Kettcar and trailer
Linear motor and encoder
Laptop and touch panel


Attaching a trailer, camper or any other device that requires towing to a truck, car or any vehicle is often a time consuming challenge. The reasons for this are manifold and appear at the first glance different for commercial and private applications. Where in the private sector a lack of experience, overestimation or the "fear" of reverse driving a trailer are the leading factors for accidents or awkward situations we see time pressure, over loading of trailers and restricted spaces in delivery bays the cause for the same results in the transportation industry. The solution is an active and separated steering system that assists the driver.


The first system prototype showed that a tow bar that allows for linear movement along the back of the towing vehicle is the solution of choice. Tests showed that beside active coupling, reduction of "cutting around corners" and reverse driving are also areas where the S3 system could assist the driver. Assisted reverse driving of a truck trailer team is the most challenging and hence was selected. All other scenarios could be derived from this solution.

Linear motion control, different IO-signals, image acquisition, serial communication and ease of use were part of the requirement set that was met using NI LabVIEW, NI USB Multifunction data acquisition and a NI Smart Camera.

S3-System (5).jpg

Figure 1: S3-Team and prototype of towing vehicle

The intelligent camera system NI 1744 Smart Camera, acts as the main sensor continuously capturing the front of the trailer featuring the two reference points. A circular movement by the trailer results in change of position of the reference points as well as a change in distance between the two reference points as seen by the camera. The change in position and distance of the reference points is then used to calculate the exact angle of rotation of the trailer relative to the back of the towing vehicle.


Figure 2: NI Smart Camera focusing on trailer's reference points

A laptop acts as the main nerve center connecting to the NI Smart Camera and to the linear motion unit via RS232. Digital signals from the motion unit, encoder signals measuring the numbers of rotation and minor other IOs were connected to the NI USB data acquisition device that in addition to a  a touchpanel screen is also connected to the laptop running NI LabVIEW.


Figure 3: S3 Separate Steering System


Trailer (9MB)
Main Video (22MB)
Ingo Foldvari
Area Sales Manager - US West Academic
National Instruments