Daimler Debuts Level 2 Cascadia

Daimler is readying Level 2 assisted steering together with adaptive cruise control and brake assist as part of an enhancement package for the Freightliner Cascadia truck. Production is scheduled for July.

This latest refinement in the Detroit Assurance 5.0 suite of active safety and driver assistance systems, is pedestrian recognition, incorporating emergency braking for pedestrians as well as active cruise down to 0 mph. The automated steering is like the system previewed at the Hannover, Germany IAA show last fall. For North America, the Level 2 Cascadia will be available in July this year for customers who desire the enhanced safety and driver aids the latest level of Detroit Assurance provides.

The electronically-controlled steering automatically positions the truck in lane and will do so even when the driver lifts the hands off the wheel. After 40 seconds, though, the truck will sound an alarm if the driver’s hands remain off the wheel. After a minute the system deactivates so the driver absolutely has the take control of the truck again.

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The enhanced Cascadia gets a new electronic dash, with a 13.3 in. digital screen ahead of the wheel and a 10.0 in. touch panel on the wing dash. With these two control panels there’s a minimum number of switches on the dashboard, with controls moved to the steering wheel.

One of these controls allows the driver to choose where in the lane he or she chooses to drive. The system will center the truck in the lane, but drivers can select a bias, which is nice for those who like to drive close to the right-side lane marker. If the truck starts to wander out of its lane, the electronically-controlled steering gently brings the truck back in lane. When deliberately steering out of lane for an off-ramp, or an overtaking maneuver, using the turn signal deactivates the lane-keeping feature.

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Daimler’s expertise in automation is being leveraged with an investment of over half a billion dollars, said Daimler, and an addition of more than 200 new jobs in its global push to put highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) on the road within a decade. Most of these jobs will be located at the new Daimler Trucks Automated Truck Research & Development Center at the truck headquarters in Portland, Ore.

Refined Features for Assurance 5.0

The fusion of camera and radar technology in Detroit Assurance 5.0 – standard on Cascadia –detects moving pedestrians and cyclists in front of the truck and can deploy full braking inwhat Daimler claims is an industry first. It can also detect and mitigate acollision with full braking on moving and stationary vehicles and objects.

The truck does this over an approximately three-second process with an audible and visual alarm first, then braking at 0.3 g for a second then a 1.0 g final stop if the driver does not respond. This cadence is accompanied by the truck horn blaring and the four-way flashers illuminated. At the final stop, the brakes remain on until the driver touches the accelerator pedal to release them.

Detecting Objects

Another feature is Side Guard Assist that detects objects, including pedestrians and cyclists, in the passenger-side blind spot for the tractor and a full-length 53-foot trailer, another industry first, and delivers an audible and visual warning on a small indictor panel mounted to the right-side A-pillar. 

“The enhancements we’ve made to Detroit Assurance have the potential to make an immediate, measurable and positive impact on overall North American road safety,” said Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing for Freightliner and Detroit. “In fact, fleets with trucks equipped with forward collision mitigation systems can experience a 60% to 80% reduction in rear-end crashes.” 

Detroit Connect Analytics provides fleets with analysis and key insights on the performance of the new Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety features. Fleets will be notified if drivers have their hands off the wheel for longer than 60 seconds.

Aerodynamics have also been enhanced including a deeper front bumper/air dam, closing panels on tow hooks and modified top and side lips for the roof and back of cab extensions.

A unique feature is that the air suspension fitted front and rear drops the tractor an inch at speeds over 55 mph,restoring regular ride height again as speed drops below 45 mph.

Steve Sturgess, author of Diesel Progress’ StreetSmarts column is an independent trucking writer and consultant based in Corona, Calif. His blog is at www.stevesturgess.com

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