Fontaine Fifth Wheel is developing a new patent-pending camera system that will make it easier for truck drivers to couple and uncouple trailers, especially in the dark and in winter. The Dual Assist Camera System features two video cameras that work together to give the driver a clear picture of both the fifth wheel and the approaching trailer.
Mirrors don’t provide an optimal vantage point for viewing the coupling process, says Fontaine, adding that drivers using the camera system will see up-close what’s really happening. The company has been collecting feedback on the product and is now making improvements before launching it in the fall.
The two cameras are mounted back-to-back behind the truck’s fifth wheel and wired to a display in the cab. They automatically turn on when the truck is shifted into reverse. As the tractor begins to back up to couple with a trailer, the in-cab monitor displays video from the rear-facing camera. Crosshairs are superimposed over the screen to help the driver properly center the vehicle.
The two cameras are situated low on the truck’s frame to prevent damage from the trailer’s kingpin. As the camera pairing passes under the kingpin, the video feed in the cab automatically switches to the camera facing the fifth wheel. This allows the driver to watch the kingpin enter the throat of the fifth wheel and assists in the coupling process.
To keep dirt and debris from blurring the video picture, automatic shutters close over the camera lenses when the system is not in use. The cameras are heated, so they can be used in sub-freezing temperatures, and feature lights for night-time operation. They’ve been designed and tested to provide a clear view in any conditions, the company says.
Fontaine plans to offer the option to truck-makers as a first-fit option and as an aftermarket accessory as well.
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