From Daimler Trucks North America comes Detroit Assurance, a suite of active safety systems that are Daimler-designed and fully integrated into Freightliner trucks with Detroit engines. This system was demonstrated in Miami in mid-November and I was there to see first-hand how they work.
There’s nothing really new here, at least not yet. Detroit Assurance is in its infancy and will be expanded in time to offer more collision mitigation capabilities. But for now, it’s being brought to market with the following functions:
Active Braking Assist: ABA will intervene when a rear-end collision with a metallic object is imminent, by applying the engine brake, downshifting the DT12 transmission (when present) and also, if necessary, using the service brakes. It’s a tough system to demonstrate and one of those systems you hope you’ll never have a use for. But it sure is good to have when you do. This technology is referred to as a collision mitigation system…no one is promising it will prevent all rear-end collisions but it can eliminate many of them and help reduce the severity of those that do occur. It reacts with lightning-quick speed and can bring the truck to a complete stop if necessary. Imagine, for a moment, a driver who suffers a medical emergency behind the wheel. It’s a terrifying thought, but with ABA, the truck will likely come to a stop before slamming into other vehicles. It’s called peace of mind.
Adaptive Cruise Control: ACC takes some getting to used to, but once you learn to trust the system it works wonderfully. You set your cruise control and the speed with auto-adjust up and down depending on the speed of the traffic in front of you, always maintaining a safe, pre-determined following distance (3.5 seconds by default). In heavy traffic, you can set the ACC and drive for miles without touching the brake or accelerator. When the path in front of you clears, the truck will accelerate back up to its cruise speed with no throttle input. Really nice to have, but again, it takes some getting used to.
Lane Departure Warning: LDW will sound an alarm and provide a haptic warning (seat or steering wheel vibration) when you stray from your lane without activating the turn signal. It’s not yet tied in with a telematics system, so it won’t notify a fleet manager of any lane transgressions but it will hopefully be enough to snap a driver back into attention or convince him to park it and take a rest, if the weaving is fatigue-related.
I mentioned before that none of these capabilities are new. In fact, you can get them today on Freightliner trucks via Meritor Wabco’s OnGuard system. Freightliner will continue to offer that system and I’ve tried it as well and it works really well. To be honest, it was difficult to detect any difference in performance between the two systems, though Daimler feels its Detroit Assurance is better integrated and can provide smoother braking and accelerations.
The real, obvious benefit of Detroit Assurance is that it is completely integrated into the existing in-dash driver messaging system. Other systems require a second display to be mounted elsewhere in the cab, creating another set of lights and the potential for driver distraction.
Currently, about 10% of Freightliner trucks are sold with Meritor OnGuard. Detroit Assurance is expected to be priced competitively. You can read my full report here.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies