The Active Drive Assist technology enables SAE Level 2 partially automated driving capability; a first for Australian heavy trucks.
The Mercedes-Benz Trucks validation program will consist of 20 trucks, including 15 units in Australia and five in New Zealand. These trucks will operate with a wide range of customer fleets, clocking up substantial kilometres on various roads across both countries.
The Active Drive Assist system, according to Mercedes-Benz Trucks, helps to steer the truck and keep it in the centre of its lane, although the driver is still required to hold the steering wheel.
This makes it one step ahead of some current systems that can guide a wandering truck back into the lane.
In this iteration, the Mercedes-Benz Trucks system actually proactive rather than reaction as it helps to steer the truck thus preventing it from shifting outside the lane.
It does this by using cameras to monitor the edge of the road and lane markings, and uses that data to help operate the electro-hydraulic steering system. The driver can overrule Active Drive Assist at any time and is able to turn off the system.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has already had a handful of Actros models with Active Drive Assist operating in customer trucks during the last few months and the feedback has been positive.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific Director, Andrew Assimo, says the Active Drive Assist technology is promising.
“Mercedes-Benz is always looking for new technology to boost safety and reduce fuel consumption and emissions and we think Active Drive Assist could deliver genuine benefits to our customers,” he said.
“Level 2 automation has the potential to deliver a major safety boost and make life easier for drivers by helping to help reduce fatigue, so naturally we are very keen to validate how the system operates on Australian roads,” said Assimo.
Active safety aids standard on the Actros such as the Active Brake Assist 5 advanced emergency braking system, active cruise control and lane departure warning, according to Assimo, have been embraced by operators.
“More and more customers are placing increased importance on advanced active safety features that can help protect truck drivers and other road users,” he said.
“Mercedes-Benz has been at the forefront with fully-integrated active safety systems in Australia and we intend to continue this leadership.”
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia will examine customer feedback and data from the validation vehicles before making a decision on whether to add Active Drive Assist as an option in the local market.
Mercedes-Benz trucks launched a new Actros model mid last year, which introduced new technology including Multimedia Cockpit tablet screens, Predictive Powertrain Control, which uses GPS and topographic information to optimise gearshifts and coast when safe, and the optional MirrorCam mirror system.
Mercedes-Benz will also present a truck that just participated in The Great Australian Drive on the Daimler stand at the Brisbane Truck Show.
The display will show the benefits of fuel saving innovations such PPC in Australian conditions. Telematics from the truck will reveal a wealth of information about the truck including the amount of ‘free kilometres’ that coasting using PPC system is able to deliver.