STEER­ING TO FU­TURE DY­NAM­ICS

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The global launch of the new Volvo Dy­namic Steer­ing driver sup­port sys­tem in­cluded a hands-off-the-wheel demon­stra­tion in an au­tonomous pla­toon

The global launch of the new Volvo Dy­namic Steer­ing (VDS) driver sup­port sys­tem in­cluded a hands-off-the-wheel demon­stra­tion in an au­tonomous pla­toon. Cobey Bar­tels re­ports from Swe­den

VOLVO TRUCKS in­tro­duced its Volvo Dy­namic Steer­ing (VDS) sys­tem in 2013, a first for the truck world, and still the only man­u­fac­turer to of­fer the as­sisted steer­ing tech­nol­ogy. The 2018 re­vamp takes the VDS sys­tem well into the fu­ture, go­ing from what was for­merly elec­tron­i­cally as­sisted hy­draulic steer­ing aimed at re­duc­ing driver strain and im­prov­ing ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and on-road track­ing, to a semi­au­tonomous driver-aid pack­age. Each of the new fea­tures built into the VDS sys­tem were demon­strated for me­dia on a global launch day in June, even­tu­ally lead­ing up to the cli­max of the event where at­ten­dees were in­vited to sit in an au­tonomous pla­toon­ing truck that seam­lessly ac­cel­er­ated and steered its way around the test track.

The VDS sys­tem still uses an elec­tronic mo­tor that sits on top of the steer­ing gear, pro­vid­ing in­puts and ad­just­ments to the hy­draulic unit. What has changed, how­ever, is the level of in­put from the sys­tem and the abil­ity for VDS to ac­tu­ally con­trol the steer­ing as part of two new safety sys­tems: Volvo Dy­namic Steer­ing with Sta­bil­ity As­sist and Volvo Dy­namic Steer­ing with Lane Keep­ing As­sist.

Lane keep­ing

Much like lane-keep­ing tech­nol­ogy in pas­sen­ger cars, the VDS Lane Keep­ing As­sist fea­ture pro­vides gen­tle steer­ing in­puts when the sys­tem de­tects lane de­par­ture.

We say gen­tle be­cause the lane-keep­ing steer­ing in­puts are far less abrupt than those ex­pe­ri­enced in pas­sen­ger cars, in or­der to pre­vent weight shift or dis­tur­bances to loaded trail­ers. The Lane Keep­ing As­sist kicks in at speeds over 55km/h and uses cam­eras to mon­i­tor ve­hi­cle po­si­tion, much like ex­ist­ing lane-de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tems.

Volvo has done away with ir­ri­tat­ing beeps and opted in­stead for hap­tic vi­bra­tional feed­back through the wheel, in con­junc­tion with the VDS Lane Keep­ing As­sist.

“A lot of driv­ers in­clud­ing my­self turn the noise off be­cause it’s an­noy­ing,” Volvo Trucks prod­uct range re­quire­ment man­ager FM/FX Ulf An­dreas­son says.

“So, we took away the sound and now use hap­tic feed­back in­stead along with steer­ing cor­rec­tion. We think with that change, all the driv­ers will keep the sys­tem turned on now.”

By now you’ve prob­a­bly gath­ered this sys­tem is no longer just about of­fer­ing steer­ing as­sis­tance but is also fully ca­pa­ble of au­tonomously steer­ing the truck, in sit­u­a­tions that may oth­er­wise re­sult in an ac­ci­dent.

The VDS with Sta­bil­ity As­sist is es­sen­tially an elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESP) sys­tem, but it pro­vides steer­ing in­puts to pre­vent trac­tion loss.

Main pic: Real-world pla­toon­ing demon­strated but it’s no or­di­nary pla­toon – this one fea­tures au­tonomous steer­ing

Above: Ulf An­dreas­son demon­strat­ing the re­mote con­trol func­tion­al­ity of the VDS sys­tem

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