Tests of Active Drive Assist in the new Actros

In Uncategorized6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 26, 2019

Active longitudinal guidance with Active Drive Assist: approaching a preceding vehicle too closely is indicated in the central display of the Multimedia Cockpit, and Active Drive Assist automatically slows down the new Actros.

In preparation for the new Actros, Mercedes-Benz Trucks carried out final tests with customers, including forwarding agent Wagenstetter from Forsting in Upper Bavaria. Within the company, trucks with two drivers can sometimes cover more than 300,000 kilometres per annum, making them perfect for testing.

When the new Actros in the Wagenstetter fleet was tested there was special focus on the new Active Drive Assist. The system is a key milestone in truck construction, as – for the first time in a series-production truck – it facilitates partially automated driving in all speed ranges. Active Drive Assist actively supports the driver through longitudinal and lateral guidance of the truck and can automatically brake and accelerate the vehicle, while also keeping within the proper lane. The driver still retains total responsibility for the vehicle’s behaviour in traffic and has to adapt their driving style to the prevailing traffic situation.

The position of the truck in its lane can be set in several stages via the multifunction steering wheel in the new Actros: there are six switches configured in a circle located on the left-hand panel of the steering wheel, for operating features such as the cruise control. Situated centrally between these switches is a Touch Control pad which is important for operating Active Drive Assist: depending on the direction in which the driver wants to move the truck within the lane, they swipe left or right horizontally across the Touch Control pad and confirm their entry. They can also specify the distance from the vehicle in front here. To do this they swipe up or down vertically.

If the driver has programmed Active Drive Assist in this way and the truck comes too close to the vehicle in front, this is depicted in the central display in the form of a stylised view of a vehicle ahead. Active Drive Assist then autonomously brakes the truck. As soon as there is sufficient distance, the system automatically accelerates the truck back up to the speed set in cruise control.

The system takes on the same active role in lane guidance: if the truck is in danger of leaving its lane, Active Drive Assist steers the vehicle back, thus keeping it in its lane. An added bonus for safety: active lane guidance continues even if the driver has deactivated Active Drive Assist. Active Drive Assist utilises the new, electrohydraulically operated Servotwin steering system. It increases the steering torque on demand.

“To start with, I first had to get used to the system,” admits Wagenstetter driver Tom Westphal. “It is definitely a very different driving feel when Active Drive Assist intervenes. But you quickly come to trust it, because the corrections always make sense and improve safety. This has a positive effect, especially in long-distance haulage. There’s simply less stress.”

All assistance systems in the new Actros operate in close coordination with one another: for example, Active Drive Assist employs the advanced radar and camera technology of the equally new Active Brake Assist 5 in order to detect preceding traffic and road markings. Active Drive Assist always operates in accordance with the specifications of the further-developed Predictive Powertrain Control, in order to move the truck along as economically as possible.

The Predictive Powertrain Control now helps the driver save fuel in rural transport applications as well as on motorways and main roads. Its digitally stored maps now also include country roads. The geometric parameters of bends, junctions and roundabouts are now included in the cruise and transmission control, as too is their signage.

Due to its aerodynamic design, the new MirrorCam also helps Wagenstetter save fuel. Main and wide-angle mirrors are replaced by the new MirrorCam in the new Actros – and also celebrate their world premiere in a series-production truck. The system comprises two cameras aimed at the rear whose recordings are transmitted to the A-pillars in the cab.

“The MirrorCam brings an enormous improvement in safety and vehicle handling as well as aerodynamics,” said Westphal. “I have a much better all-round view because the large mirrors are no longer there. I also find the distance lines very helpful as they make it easier for me to gauge the traffic behind.

“I’ve already told my boss that in future I only want to drive trucks with MirrorCam. He needn’t ask me to get behind the wheel of any other truck!”