VIRGINIA – Volvo Trucks North America is implementing a new, improved driver assistance system with recognition of lane switches to avoid other vehicles, as well as an update that allows brakes to stop at a much higher speed without driver action.
Volvo Active Driver Assist 2.0 is a new collision mitigation system which utilizes both camera and radar technology to sense traffic conditions around the vehicle, maintain safe following distance, and give visual and audio alerts for the driver to take immediate action in the case of a hazard. If there is no input from the driver, active emergency braking is able to stop the truck on its own.
The safety system is now able to stop a truck–completely–at speeds up to 50 miles an hour, and will be the new standard on Volvo’s VNL and VNR series as well as an optional system on its VNX lines.
The primary version of this system, implemented in 2017, was only able to bring a truck to a stop from up to 35 miles per hour. Now, even if the truck is traveling faster than 50 miles per hour and must be brought to an emergency stop, the updated system can reduce the truck’s speed by 50 miles per hour overall, and reduce the potential damage of impact in a collision.
“If the truck is going 65 mph, it can shave 50 mph off that speed, so it is a 15 mpf crash,” said Allison Athey, VTNA’s product marketing manager for the VNL truck line.
She also said the improved driver assistance system includes an updated version of multi-lane braking with an even better ability to detect when a truck leaves its lane in order to avoid a nearby vehicle. “It always detected vehicles in both lanes, but when the truck would change lanes, it would have to take a second to recalculate and then begin to automatically emergency brake again if it was required,” Athey explained.
Now, there is no longer a need for any recalculation.
Additionally, the system now includes adjustable volume overrides for its lane-change warning capabilities, along with a new feature which allows the driver to, in particular situations, turn the system off for up to 10 minutes.
A new Highway Departure Warning and Braking function will also slow down the truck to a pre-selected speed if there is no corrective action by the driver after a lane-departure safety warning has been given, and if the system senses that the vehicle may be moving away from the drivable highway.
The system also takes advantage of new safety technology for driver awareness support, with a driver-facing camera with easy data capture, and adaptive cruise control that now includes an “auto resume” feature, also known as “slow and go.”
In other new developments, Volvo has also introduced a new steering system of its Class 8 trucks, which aims to reduce steering force up to 85% in order to help reduce driver fatigue and its dangerous effects.
This system is called Volvo Dynamic Steering, and includes an electric motor set above the truck’s steering gear. Trucks will have sensors that can measure input of over 2,000 times per second to determine steering wheel response, while also monitoring driver behavior, road conditions and environmental obstacles in order to make necessary safety adjustments.
VTNA says VDS is designed to help drivers in their ability to work around obstacles in road conditions, on everything from rugged terrain to difficult, tight maneuvers in urban areas. VDS will also include a return-to-center function, which will allow the steering wheel to return to center and help drivers better handle maneuvering in narrow spots or while in reverse. It will also have a new “lead/pull compensation” capability, which will provide a torque offset in its steering system to help navigate crowned roads, crosswinds, and other tricky conditions that can temporarily negatively impact driving.
These new features went into production in mid-September, and, according to Athey, will continue undergoing improvements until the end of next year. VDS will be available in early 2020 and Active Driver Assist 2.0 will become standard on 2021 VNL and VNR models.
Volvo plans to work toward a goal of having zero Volvo truck-related collisions, but is counting on customer cooperation, according to Ash Makki, VTNA’s product marketing manager for technology. “This is something we have been working on diligently for years, but it is a goal that we can reach by ourselves,” he explained. “We can build the best active safety features, but if my customers don’t buy into it–see the value–is that going to work? So we have been pushing hard to our customers right now.”
Makki also says all of Volvo’s safety features are standard, but not mandated. “So the customer has an option,” he assured. “But, we have been telling our customers, ‘Why would you even think about doing that?’”
“Providing state-of-the-art features that improve drivers’ physical working conditions and comfort is an important aspect of driver satisfaction,” added Chris Stadler, VTNA product marketing manager, “as well as increasing overall productivity and road safety.”