Local Level 2 automation tests begin

In News, June 20212 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 3, 2021

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has launched an Australian and New Zealand validation programme for an Actros that can help steer itself. The Active Drive Assist technology enables SAE Level 2 partially automated driving capability – a first for New Zealand heavy trucks.

The Mercedes-Benz Trucks validation programme will consist of five units in New Zealand and 15 units in Australia. The trucks will operate with a wide range of customer fleets on various roads across both countries. Mercedes-Benz Trucks will examine customer feedback and data from the validation vehicles before deciding whether to add Active Drive Assist as an option in the local market.

The Active Drive Assist system helps steer the truck and keep it in the centre of its lane, although the driver is still required to hold the steering wheel. It is one step ahead of some current systems that can push a truck back into the lane should it wander out. The Mercedes-Benz Trucks system helps steer the truck in the first place and aims to prevent it from getting out to the edge of the lane.

The Active Drive Assist system is proactive rather than reactive. Cameras monitor the edge of the road and lane markings, and that data helps operate the electro-hydraulic steering system.

The driver can overrule Active Drive Assist at any time and can turn off the system. Mercedes-Benz Trucks has already had a handful of Actros models with Active Drive Assist operating with customers during the last few months, and the feedback has been positive.

“Level 2 automation has the potential to deliver a major safety boost and make life easier for drivers by helping to help reduce fatigue, so naturally we are very keen to validate how the system operates on Australian and New Zealand roads,” said Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific director Andrew Assimo.