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Eaton showcases autonomous docking technologies



HANOVER, Germany — Eaton is demonstrating at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Shows two systems designed to assist drivers with docking.

Its Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) Dock Assist feature uses software upgrades to communicate with control modules in Eaton’s automated, manual and dual clutch automatic transmissions. It controls vehicle speed and electronic braking to ease the trailer or truck back into position for loading or unloading, eliminating rough dockings and related damage.

As the vehicle begins moving toward the loading dock, the driver applies the service brake, comes to a stop and activates a dashboard ADAS Dock Assist switch. When the transmission detects the dock based on the torque being applied while pushing against the dock, it eases it into position and allows it to self park. A driver is required to oversee the system.

“Dock Assist is a practical solution to an industry issue,” said Gerard Devito, chief technology officer, Eaton’s Vehicle Group. “In conversations we have had with a large fleet customer, they estimate an expenditure of $10,000 a month for repairs from damages that occur during the coupling of a tractor or trailer in the loading dock environment. That is money they would not have to spend using Eaton’s ADAS Dock Assist system.”

Taking it a step further, Eaton also showed the ability through Autonomous Auto-Docking to self-park tractors or tractor-trailer combinations using GPS technology that allows the vehicle to find its destination without any driver involvement. For instance, a lot manager could position tractors and trailers at the appropriate docks.

“Autonomous auto-docking is the next level of Eaton’s ADAS with numerous benefits to customers,” Devito said. “From improved productivity due to reduced time to park and drivers dropping trailers to pick up new loads, to eliminating damage to trailers and warehouse docks and reduce labor required in warehouse yards to spot trailers, autonomous auto-docking has the potential to truly change how business is conducted.”