Mercedes-Benz Actros prime movers are now equipped with optional Active Drive Assist technology according to Daimler Trucks.
The technology enables SAE Level 2 partially automated driving capability making it a first for Australian heavy trucks.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has introduced the innovative driver assistance technology as an optional feature after a successful 1.2 million kilometre validation program that included 20 trucks, including 15 units in Australia and five in New Zealand.
Active Drive Assist helps to actively steer the truck and keep it in the centre of its lane, although the driver is still required to hold the steering wheel.
Some current systems can push a truck back into the lane should it wander out, while Active Driver Assist goes one better, by actually helping to steer the truck in the first place so that the aim is to prevent the vehicle getting out to the edge of the lane.
The Lane Keeping Assist system, according to Daimler Trucks, is proactive rather than reactive.
It does this by using cameras to monitor lane markings, and uses that data to help operate the electro-hydraulic steering system. The driver can overrule Lane Keeping Assist at any time and is able to turn off the system.
Active Drive Assist uses an electric motor located on the steering box to provide assistance in addition to the standard hydraulic power steering.
It not only helps keep the truck in the lane, but also provides more assistance to the driver such as improving maneuverability, especially at lower speeds.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific Director, Andrew Assimo, said drivers will appreciate Active Drive Assist technology.
“Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ Level 2 automation makes life easier for drivers and boosts safety by helping reduce fatigue,” he said.
“The feedback from our validation program has been overwhelmingly positive from drivers who can really appreciate the benefits of the system after experiencing it first-hand,” said Assume.
The Level 2 Automation system, according to Assume, is not taking control away from drivers as they are required to hold the steering wheel at all times and must be prepared to take over at any stage.
“This is a driver assistance feature, not a driver replacement feature,” he said.
“Mercedes-Benz is always advancing new technology to boost safety, reduce fuel consumption and emissions and improve the experience of the driver, which is why we have introduced Active Drive Assist as an optional feature,” said Assume.
While Mercedes-Benz Trucks makes features such as its Level 2 Automation and innovative MirrorCam feature optional, a suite of advanced safety features is standard on every truck it sells.
Active Brake Assist 5 includes an Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
“Mercedes-Benz has long been leading the pack when it comes to fully-integrated active safety systems in Australia and we intend to continue this leadership with features such as Active Drive Assist,” said Assume.
Other key technology introduced by Mercedes-Benz Trucks includes high resolution Multimedia Cockpit tablet screens and Predictive Powertrain Control, which uses GPS and topographic information to optimise gearshifts and maximise coasting to save as much fuel as possible.