Mercedes Benz revolutionary mirror cam system has hit Australian roads in an extended trial ahead of the launch of the updated Actros featuring the ‘mirrorless mirror’ and a whole lot of other future tech, some time in early 2020 and Truck and Bus News had the chance to sample the new truck in a drive this week.
The Mirror Cam concept is the headline act in a whole bundle of high tech innovation that will be a part of the next gen Actros that will hit Australian roads, just three years after the new Actros platform was launched here. While that new Actros’ arrival in Australia lagged Europe by almost five years, this updated model will be here less than two years after its debut in Hannover in 2017.
Like a lot of new technology the Mirror Cam has had its fair share of nay sayers and doubters but after an hour or so negotiating freeways, urban streets and an industrial complex we can report that this is a system that will revolutionise truck driving.
While a glass mirror has a fixed narrow view the mirror cam has a wider and more inclusive rear view spanning all lanes of a freeway as well as having some visual cues that allow the driver to judge the distance back to vehicles following. It also has an auto pan feature that widens the view when turning tight bends, giving the driver a view back past the rear of the trailer, where a glass mirror is fixed on the middle of the tautliner. It works so well on so any levels and we predict that in a few years we will be wondering why we waited so long for cameras.
The mirror cam’s other big advantage is the removal of a big slab of steel backing plate and supports tor the external mirrors that reduce aero efficiency, generate wind noise and cause a big black spot looking forward out the side windows. With Mirror Cam the wind noise in the cab is discernibly lower and Benz claim that in Europe it has reduced fuel usage by 1.5 per cent. Local Daimler people say it could be more here in Australia due to our higher speeds, but that has not been validated yet.
Along with the revolutionary mirror system there is a new predictive cruise control and ‘clever’ system that uses GPS data to understand terrain which enables the cruise control to throttle off when cresting hills to save more fuel.
The new Actros also features what the aviation people call a ‘glass cockpit’ with a full solid state LED display both for the central audio/nav/info screen and for the instrument cockpit. This allows multiple displays to be selected and is very easy to use. The system has already been seen in Benz cars and in the Sprinter van range and has been adapted for the new Actros. It has a very multiple, flexible and easy to use interface with finger controls on the wheel, touch screen and voice recognition capability. It’s a fantastic system and takes trucks into a high tech well thought out future tense.
We can’t wait for the next gen Actros and look forward to getting behind the wheel for a longer drive when it is launched in 2020