Focus is on safety and driver convenience
Jam-packed with everything from infrared night-vision cameras to ignition systems that require fingerprint identification, Kenworth Truck Co. unveiled a new version of its High-Tech T2000 highwaytractor at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
The Kirkland, Wash.-based company said most of the features won't be commercially available until the end of this year and into 2001 because much of the technology is still in development. "We're trying to take technology a step further, to promote both highway safety and driver comfort," said Ed Caudill, Kenworth's general manager and vp at parent company, PACCAR Inc.
Caudill expects to have the side-vision cameras available by the end of this year, and the rear-vision cameras by early 2001. "We're not going to put anything on a truck that doesn't get payback for either fleets or owner-operators," he said, adding that time is a factor in driving down the cost for some of this technology.
Kenworth's High-Tech truck showcases a wide variety of technology-enabled systems, including:
* Side- and rear-vision video camera systems to allow truck drivers to view blind spots before making lane changes or backing up to warehouse docks.
* Forward-looking infrared night vision to help give drivers the ability to identify objects in the roadway in all weather conditions.
* Onboard navigational software, featuring maps designed to change in detail as drivers approach their destination and optional voice directions.
* A driver drowsiness monitor designed to track the truck's position in its lane and sound an alarm if the driver's performance dips below a certain level.
* An ignition system and hood release that can be equipped with fingerprint identification technology to provide more security.
* An Electronic Braking System using brake-by-wire technology instead of pneumatics to control the truck's air brakes.
* Flat panel screens to allow drivers to organize information - trailer refrigeration levels, oil pressure, engine speed, etc. - in easy-to-read configurations. According to Kenworth, the screens can be linked to the fingerprint system, so that specific driver-programmed displays will appear when the ignition is activated.
The 1999 technology truck was the genesis for two new options, a navigation system and a vision system, that will be available on T2000 and W900 highway models by the end of this year, according to Caudill. Alpine's DVD-based navigation system is scheduled to become an option beginning with May production. A swivel mount makes the mapping program accessible to the driver or the passenger.
Kenworth's new vision system is scheduled to debut by year-end, beginning with a curb-view camera located on the sleeper's upper right side. Images will be displayed on the same flat-panel screen utilized by the new navigation system. Rear vision cameras will be introduced later.
Technology, specifically e-commerce, is also impacting freight patterns, according to Caudill, who cited e-business as one of the factors expected to create additional demand for medium-duty cabover trucks. In anticipation of this growing market segment, Kenworth is now offering its K300 medium-duty cabover with Class 6 or 7 ratings.
Beginning in August, customers will also be able to spec an automatic transmission for the K300. The 6-speed Eaton Fuller AutoShift or an Allison MD-series will be available in addition to the current Eaton Fuller 6-speed.
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