SPRING IN LOUISVILLE

Rolf Lockwood

March25, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 6

There was really only going to be one theme at the Mid-America Trucking Show last week, or at least that’s what most folks expected. Engines, nothing else. Engines, and then engines again. I knew the MaxxForce 15 motor from International Trucks would be introduced, and I knew the SCR camp was planning a co-ordinated assault on the “misinformation” being spread by International about selective catalytic reduction and especially about the evils of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). I also expected the formal unveiling of a few 2010 engines from the likes of Cummins and Detroit.

Well, we had all of that, and I’ll go there in a minute, but this year’s rendition of Springtime in Louisville – uncharacteristically warm, I say with pleasure – had two clear sub-themes unrelated to the diesel wars. One was a focus on intelligent cruise control, including the emergence of the Bendix technology called Wingman ACB, or adaptive cruise control with braking, which was also introduced by Mack and Volvo under other names (see the product item below). It followed Meritor WABCO’s unveiling of the next-generation OnGuard collision avoidance system a few weeks back at TMC.

These systems work essentially the same way, using forward-looking radar sensors to monitor a pre-set distance – or time — to the moving vehicle ahead, supplementing the truck’s cruise control system. When a potential collision is developing, the system sends audible and visual warnings so the driver can react and take corrective action. If he doesn’t, it will automatically decelerate the truck by throttle control, apply the engine brake, and if necessary apply the foundation brakes until a safe following distance is re-achieved. Once a safe gap is re-established, it will accelerate again.

It’s cool stuff, and along with stability control, I think it should be mandatory, as it soon will be in Europe.

The European Union has just approved a mandate to improve road safety, including a new regulation to demand electronic stability control (ESC) systems on all new heavy commercial vehicles from November 2011. Other safety technologies like advanced emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning (LDW) systems will soon be compulsory on heavy trucks and buses over there too. AEB systems will be mandatory in Europe from November 2013, according to WABCO. Currently, the company says, less than 10% of the heavy trucks produced in Europe are equipped with electronic stability controls.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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