Freightliner Group senior vp-engineering & technology Michael von Mayenburg says the main challenge to getting advanced safety technology onto commercial trucks is cost. “The trucking industry is very competitive and calculates everything down to the penny. That's why safety devices are not an easy sell,” he told FLEET OWNER at an “Innovations Symposium” held by Freightliner's parent company, DaimlerChrysler, in Washington, DC, last month.
Freightliner presented a Class 8 demonstration truck outfitted with a variety of active safety technologies, including electronic stability control (ESC), electronically controlled braking systems, radar collision warning with adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system, and a “Sidetracker” visibility camera that enables drivers to see the truck's blindspot.
The new Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, developed in cooperation with Meritor WABCO, is designed to increase vehicle stability by applying engine controls and individual wheel brakes to control the yaw rate of the tractor and trailer on the road, said von Mayenburg.
In critical situations, when the vehicle does not follow the path the operator has requested, ESC applies wheel brakes at the appropriate corners to prevent it from jackknifing, going off the road, etc. In this kind of situation, the trailer brakes are also pulsed to assure that the combination remains stable throughout the event, he said.
Freightliner's Roll Advisor is a system that automatically cuts power to the engine and applies the brakes to prevent a tractor-trailer from rolling over in a tight turn.
Freightliner also demonstrated its radar collision warning system with adaptive cruise control, designed to alert drivers to slow-moving vehicles and thus avoid rear-end collisions. A buzzer sounds when the system detects that the truck is maintaining an unsafe following distance. If the adaptive cruise control is on, the system will set a safer following distance using the throttle, engine brake or tractor foundation brake. The lane guidance system uses a digital camera and in-cab monitor to display a view of the entire right side of the truck.
While emerging technologies hold considerable potential for enhancing heavy-duty truck safety, von Mayenburg explained that the truck driver remains the key to safe heavy-duty truck operations.