Freightliner Corporation announced new truck safety features at the American Trucking Associations annual management conference in Orlando, Florida. These new truck technologies are designed to help prevent accidents, as well as assist in determining the causes of accidents.
Roll Advisor & Control is a new device that can help prevent rollovers. According to the Department of Transportation, rollover crashes account for about half of the approximately 700 annual heavy-duty truck driver fatalities. Truck rollovers also pose risks for other motorists.
Freightliner's Roll Advisor & Control system is intended to prevent rollover crashes by alerting the driver to potentially dangerous driving behavior and/or automatically slowing the vehicle to help prevent rollover, said Gary Rossow, director of government technical affairs for Freightliner. Available in late 2000, Roll Advisor & Control will be standard equipment on the new Century Class S/T (safety and technology) heavy-duty truck.
The new system has two integrated components: Roll Stability Advisor and Roll Stability Control. Both utilize sensors integrated into the antilock brake system. By tracking lateral acceleration and wheel speed, the system detects the potential for rollover.
Roll Stability Advisor is a training aid designed to advise drivers of rollover conditions. Warnings are communicated via the Freightliner Driver Message Center located in the dash directly in front of the driver.
The system signals with increased urgency as the potential for rollover increases. The first level of alert is a message that reads "Risky Maneuver Detected."
The second level involves an alternating message that reads "Rollover Risk Detected" followed by a recommended slower speed. This message continues until the driver pushes a button to acknowledge it.
The third level of alert involves an alternating message that flashes "High Risk of Rollover Detected" with a recommended slower speed. At this level, a tone also sounds.
"Oftentimes, drivers do not know that they are on the verge of a rollover," Rossow said. "We believe Roll Stability Advisor will, over time, teach drivers safer operation of the vehicle."
Rossow added that instances of Roll Stability Advisor warnings can be recorded in Freightliner's data logging unit that records truck and component performance. Fleet managers can download information on rollover warnings and, if necessary, coach drivers on safer driving techniques.
The Roll Stability Control function takes prevention to the next level by automatically slowing the vehicle. When sensor data indicate that a rollover is imminent, Roll Stability Control sends a signal to the engine controls to reduce power and apply the engine brake. This slows the truck reducing the forces pushing the vehicle toward rollover. When stability returns, power is restored and the engine brake is turned off.
Rossow called the system a logical extension of antilock brakes. "Antilock brakes have been proven to improve vehicle control," he said. Roll Advisor & Control expands and enhances the safety revolution of antilock braking."
Antilock brakes became required equipment on heavy-duty tractors in 1997 and trucks in 1998. Freightliner made antilock brakes standard on its Class 8 trucks in 1995, well ahead of the federal mandate.
Freightliner plans to make Roll Advisor & Control functions available on all Freightliner Corporation air-braked vehicles, Rossow added. The system was developed in conjunction with Meritor WABCO.
Lane Guidance Another new truck safety system is Lane Guidance, a lane departure warning system. Soon available on the Century Class ST, Columbia, and Argosy heavy-duty trucks, Lane Guidance monitors the truck's position relative to lane markings, then sounds an audible warning when the truck is about to stray outside its lane. The advanced system is designed to prevent accidents by warning distracted or inattentive drivers of unintended lane changes.
The Lane Guidance system consists of a digital camera mounted inside on the windshield, a central processing unit (CPU) in the overhead console, and speakers in each door.
The camera continually gathers data and feeds it into the CPU. Using proprietary DaimlerChrysler image recognition software and a lane recognition algorithm, the CPU determines if a vehicle is drifting too close to the lane markings. When this occurs and if the driver has not activated the turn signal, the CPU sends a signal to emit a distinctive "rumble strip" sound.
When the truck is straying to the left, the warning sound comes from the left speaker. When the truck is straying to the right, it comes from the right side. The driver intuitively steers away from the sound. The "rumble strip" sound was chosen after research showed that it effectively warned drivers without causing them to overreact.
Lane Guidance works both day and night and in most inclement weather conditions. The system tracks most types of lane markings common in North America, including dashes and dot-type reflective markings (commonly called "bot dots"). A change of lane width on the road or merging/splitting of the lane should not cause an alarm.
The system is capable of transmitting and receiving messages on the J1939 data link and is designed to be maintenance-free. A warning light on the dash serves to indicate any problems with the system.
The Lane Guidance System is a joint development among Odetics ITS Inc, DaimlerChrysler Research, and Freightliner Corporation. Odetics ITS is an Anaheim, California-based company specializing in intelligent highway technologies.
Production begins in the second quarter of 2000. Lane Guidance will be available first on Century Class S/T, Argosy, and Columbia Class 8 trucks and later will be offered on other Freightliner vehicles.
Lane Guidance joins a multitude of active and passive safety systems available from Freightliner. The company offers the Eaton Vorad EVT-300 collision warning system, which warns of objects ahead and to the side of the truck, and the new Roll Advisor & Control system. An advanced electronic braking system (EBS) available on the Century Class S/T and Argosy improves braking control, lessens brake maintenance requirements, compensates for brake fade, and helps reduce stopping distance.