Mercedes-Benz Trucks launches Australian Level 2 automation validation program in Brisbane

Mercedes-Benz Trucks  has announced it will will use the Brisbane Truck Show later this month to launch an Australian validation program for an Actros that can help steer itself a.

The company says its Active Drive Assist technology enables SAE Level 2 partially automated driving capability; and will be a first for Australian heavy trucks.

Mercedes-Benz says its validation program will consist of 20 trucks, including 15 units in Australia and five in New Zealand, operating in a wide range of customer fleets, clocking up substantial kilometres on various roads across both countries.

The company says the Active Drive Assist system helps to steer the truck and keep it in the centre of its lane, although the driver is still required to hold the steering wheel.

It is one step ahead of some current systems that can push a truck back into the lane should it wander out. The Mercedes-Benz Trucks system actually helps to steer the truck in the first place and aims to prevent it getting out to the edge of the lane. The Active Drive Assist system is proactive rather than reactive.

It does this by using cameras to monitor the edge of the road and lane markings, and uses that data to help operate the electro-hydraulic steering system. The driver can overrule Active Drive Assist at any time and is able to turn off the system.

Mercedes-Benz has already had a handful of Actros models with Active Drive Assist operating in customer trucks during the last few months and the feedback has been positive.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific director, Andrew Assimo, said the Active Drive Assist technology is promising.

“Mercedes-Benz is always looking for new technology to boost safety and reduce fuel consumption and emissions and we think Active Drive Assist could deliver genuine benefits to our customers,” he said.

“Level 2 automation has the potential to deliver a major safety boost and make life easier for drivers by helping to help reduce fatigue, so naturally we are very keen to validate how the system operates on Australian roads,” Assimo adds.

Mr Assimo says active safety aids such as the Active Brake Assist 5 advanced emergency braking system, active cruise control and lane departure warning, which are standard on Actros, have been embraced by operators.

“More and more customers are placing increased importance on advanced active safety features that can help protect truck drivers and other road users,” Mr Assimo says.

“Mercedes-Benz has been at the forefront with fully-integrated active safety systems in Australia and we intend to continue this leadership,” he concludes.

Mercedes-Benz says it will examine customer feedback and data from the validation vehicles before making a decision on whether to add Active Drive Assist as an option in the local market.

Mercedes-Benz trucks launched a new Actros model mid last year, which introduced new technology including Multimedia Cockpit tablet screens, Predictive Powertrain Control, which uses GPS and topographic information to optimise gearshifts and coast when safe, and the optional MirrorCam mirror system.

Mercedes-Benz will also present a truck that just participated in The Great Australian Drive on the Daimler stand at the Brisbane Truck Show. The display will show the benefits of fuel saving innovations such PPC in Australian conditions. Telematics from the truck will reveal a wealth of information about the truck including the amount of ‘free kilometres’ that coasting using PPC system is able to deliver.