Maritime Truckers Roll With Volvo-Bendix Stability Tech

by 2007 April

WILMOT, NB  As he waited his turn for a test drive demonstrating the Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology (VEST) system, Robbie Acheson admitted to being a little skeptical it could prevent roll-overs.

The president of County Line Trucking in Wilmot, New Brunswick, was one of over 40 industry professionals gathered at the Moncton Coliseum recently for the first demonstration held in the Atlantic region by Volvo and Bendix. In addition to VEST, participants learned about Volvo Enhanced Cruise with active braking.

Acheson’s  suspicions disappeared when the VEST demonstration driver negotiated a series of obstacles that saw the trailer full of close to 8,000 gallons of water tip precariously, but then was righted almost as quickly by the system.

“I really thought she was going to go,” he said. “There is no question in my mind the system saved us from rolling over.”

His seatmate, Steve Greer from A.S. Reefer Parts in Moncton, agreed. Greer said the driver was going close to 30 miles an hour when the system began to correct the rollover — even before it was possible in the cab to tell there was trouble.

Those are the type of comments Pierre Bideau loves to hear. He works with the system’s designers, Bendix, and gave the technical briefing prior to the demonstration. Bideau explained the system is a trailer-based system capable of assisting with both rollover and vehicle under and over steer.

Unlike a number of the other anti-lock braking systems, Bideau said VEST can apply all vehicle brakes and de-throttle the engine if necessary. The system works on all types of road surfaces with sensors monitoring wheel speed, lateral acceleration, steering angle, brake pressure, load and yaw.

Acheson was equally impressed with the enhanced cruise system, which uses a radar mounted at the front of the vehicle  that will detect both moving vehicles and stationary objects up to about 500 feet—whether the cruise control is being used or not.

If the cruise control is set, the system will maintain a following distance of about three seconds with the vehicle in front.  Acheson said “you can’t fix when drivers make a stupid mistake but this goes a long way.” 

Terry Wade of Lounsbury Truck Centre in Moncton added “you could feel the truck slowing down as the car in front of us came to a stop—it reacted quickly.” Bideau said the system will automatically apply up to about two-thirds of the available braking force in order to lessen the severity or help mitigate a collision with the forward vehicle.

If the cruise control is off, the system also includes three alerts — the first a caution that the truck is too close to the vehicle ahead.  If the driver does not take action, a second alert will sound indicating an accident will happen unless action is taken. There is also a Stationary Object Alert that indicates a stationary object is up ahead. 

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