Mack has announced a package of safety features designed to make its trucks the safest and most advanced conventional trucks on the Australian market according  to the company.

Truck and Bus News was given an insight into the package of driver safety aids during a wet and treacherous day at Shepparton’s DECA driver education facility late last week.

Mack has used the Knorr Bremse Bendix Wingman Fusion suite of electronic enhancements to deliver a safety package that matches the advance systems offered on the Volvo Group’s  flagship Volvo  brand and on other European cab over trucks including the soon to be released Mercedes Benz Actros.

As we said Mack and Bendix claim this is the most advanced electronic safety package to be offered on a US sourced conventional truck and certainly after trying some of the system’s advantages we came away extremely impressed with the ability to keep the rig stable and under control even in the most testing of conditions.

With torrential rain sweeping across Victoria all day  the DECA skid pan looked more like a lake than a concrete hard stand. Despite this, Bendix engineers initially showed  how intuitive the Wingman Fusion system is by driving the Mack Granite prime mover hooked to a test trailer, a combination grossing around 40 tonnes, across the skid pan at a constant 50km/h on adaptive cruise control before hooking into a J-curve around witches hats without touching any of the pedals.

The result could have been disaster without the electronic stability and safety package, however the system  which was monitoring a range of inputs, including yaw  rate, wheel speed, steering angle and the trucks ECU, detected the pending situation applying braking, taking control of the transmission, downshifting and applying engine braking, totally of its own accord.

When we were given a chance to try the same manoeuvrer it was again totally foolproof. The foot was hard on the throttle but the  system was in control and  went around the wet and slippery corner safely and without incident.

The adaptive cruise  control and its emergency braking override component was demonstrated by Bendix engineers on the DECA test loop using an inflatable ‘dummy’ car with a cardboard image of a car attached to one side to allow the combination of camera and radar to  detect a stationery vehicle on the road ahead.

With the cruise control set to 45km/h and  the rain continuing to stream down we charged down the road toward the imminent crash, alarms started to sound and  when  no action was being taken by the driver the system again took over applying the brakes hard and as if by some sort of miracle the 40 tonnes of potential battering ram was brought to a halt  with barely a metre to spare, while ABS actuator valves could be heard frantically adjusting and re-adjusting deep within the Mack.

Bendix and Mack were at pains to point out the system is not touted as something that will keep the truck out of accidents in every situation but it will reduce the potential damage and in most cases help the driver avoid an accident  in the first place.

The Wingman Fusion which is being engineered into the Mack range and is not just an add on package, as the Bendix and Mack people pointed out,  is a predictive rather than reactive system and monitors a range of data from around the truck including sensors, a camera, radar and blindspot sensors monitoring the sides of the prime mover.

The Mack Safety pack will be available as an option on Granite, Trident and Superliner models but not on Metroliner largely because of the nature of its favoured vocation mostly in the concrete agitator market.

We are still awaiting a price tag for the Safety Pack and a few other details which we will bring you here on the website in coming weeks and in  Transport & Trucking Australia.