Mercedes-Benz Trucks launches local Level 2 automation validation program

In News, Mercedes-Benz3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 6, 2021

At next week‘s Brisbane Truck Show, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will launch an Australian and New Zealand validation program 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 program will consist of 20 trucks, including five units in New Zealand and 15 units in Australia. The trucks will operate with a wide range of customer fleets, clocking up substantial kilometres on various roads across both countries.  

The Active Drive Assist system helps to 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 actually helps to steer the truck in the first place and aims to prevent it getting out to the edge of the lane. The Active Drive Assist system is proactive rather than reactive. 

It does this by using cameras to monitor the edge of the road and lane markings, and uses that data to help operate the electro-hydraulic steering system. The driver can overrule Active Drive Assist at any time and is able to 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. 

Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific director, Andrew Assimo, says the Active Drive Assist technology is promising.

“Mercedes-Benz is always looking for new technology to boost safety and reduce fuel consumption and emissions and we think Active Drive Assist could deliver genuine benefits to our customers,” he says. “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,” Assimo adds.

Assimo says active safety aids such as the Active Brake Assist 5 advanced emergency braking system, active cruise control and lane departure warning, which are standard on Actros, have been embraced by operators.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks will examine customer feedback and data from the validation vehicles before making a decision on whether to add Active Drive Assist as an option in the local market.