Virtual Driver Coach

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Kenworth now offers its Driver Performance Assistant as an option for new T680 and T880 models spec’d with PACCAR MX-13 engines and automated transmissions. It’s a built-in virtual driver’s coach, the company says. Kenworth’s Driver Performance Center gives drivers immediate feedback on how their driving affects wear on brakes as well as fuel economy. For example, the system lets drivers know how smoothly they braked to a stop after exiting a highway. It monitors whether they have a soft or hard foot on the brakes. It also ‘rewards’ them with visual acknowledgment when using the engine brake since that also brings benefits to longer brake life. The system also provides feedback to how they handled the driving challenge. The ‘assistant’ may calculate if they performed at a very high level – 80% or more – or it may give them a low score to help indicate where improvement may be made. During rest periods, drivers can push a button to view trip performance. They see an overall performance chart which might show the driver is coasting at a 90% efficiency rating, and gently braking 80% of the time. It then combines the scores to give an overall driver performance rating. The ‘assistant’ also gives reminder tips – when the truck is parked – to help maximize fuel economy. For example, a snowflake icon can appear to remind the driver that unnecessary air conditioning usage can pull down fuel economy by up to 2%. Or it might show a reminder that engine idling can consume up to half a gallon of fuel per hour. The Driver Performance Assistant can be customized and programmed to offer performance settings selected by fleets or owner operators.

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

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