Mirrorcam sees blind spots
Latest Merc makes emergency stops and offers wrap-around views of a truck’s front and rear
HANOVER — Europe’s biggest annual truck show has in its previous 66 years shown many safety features that appeared first in trucks before becoming standard safety systems in cars.
The best known examples are electric mirrors and lane keeping assist, both systems pioneered by Mercedes-Benz trucks. The world’s first car builder did it again this year — launching the best thing since the electric mirror — no mirror.
Instead of several large slabs of curved reflective glass that need to be heated to stay clear, Merc now offers Mirrorcam, an elegant little camera housing that aims lenses at the many dangerous blind spots around a truck.
And this is not merely a clever gizmo designed to dazzle under the spotlights in the main hall at the 67th IAA commercial vehicle show, but are already on sale on the new Actros.
In addition to increased safety, removing the large mirrors also reduces drag and diesel consumption, as the compact digital cameras bring considerable aerodynamic advantages.
This safety feature will be welcomed by all truckers who otherwise have to wonder exactly where that biker and two small cars are in their blind spots, but Mirrorcam is only the cherry on top of a raft of active safety systems in the new Actros.
Mercedes-Benz consider the most important new feature on the Actros the latest version of Active Drive Assist.
Unlike systems that only work within a certain speed range, Active Drive Assist provides semiautomated driving at all speeds — the first such system in a series production truck.
The system features active longitudinal and lateral control at all speed ranges by combining radar and camera information, which enables a driver to stay perfectly within the lane on highways.
At the test track around its truck factory in Wörth, Merc had one of their executives walk in front of a speeding truck to display how fast and effectively the Active Drive Assist works.
Should the driver not brake in time, as happened here to the gasps of media, the truck will slam on the brakes in such a manner that the trailer stays neatly in its lane, and automatically speed up again once the obstacle is cleared.
Should the trailer or tractor cross a lane unintentionally, Active Drive Assist intervenes and independently steers the vehicle back into its lane.
The distance from the vehicle in front and the vehicle’s position in its lane can be adjusted in multiple stages using the driving assistance menu.
Using 3-5% less fuel
Compared to its predecessor, the new Actros consumes up to three percent less fuel on motorways and expressways.
With mileage in long-distance haulage typically exceeding 120 000 km per year, Mercedes said in a statement that three percent translates into a significant cost reduction for the operator. When travelling on rural routes, like most of South Africa offers, the savings can be up to five percent, as this is where the effect of the improved Predictive Powertrain Control system is even more significant.
The fuel savings are helped by a new standard ratio for the weight-optimised rear axle.
The gear ratio has been reduced from 1:2.533 previously to 1:2.412.
Thanks to the weight-optimised G211 transmission, the new gear ratio is now available for all new Actros models equipped with the second-generation, six-cylinder OM 471 inline engine and 315/70 R 22,5 tyres, paying off both on motorways and when travelling on rural routes alike.
The 67th Hanover Truck show dispayed several road-ready drivetrains that do not burn diesel, with Merc showing three non-diesel drivetrains, with the battery pack of the eActros (above), the Actros with liquid natural gas (LNG) and the all-electric eCanter. Iveco and Shell showed their bio-gas refuelling system, Volvo displayed its LNG tanks and Renault had on display its latest all-electric trucks.
A small but stylish camera housing replaces the traditional large truck mirrors on the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, to totally eliminate blind spots and provide the driver with several views around the truck, as well as a considerable reduction in aerodynamic drag.
The Mirrocam removes blind spots around a truck.
Maretha Gerber, new head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks for Southern Africa, urges all fleet managers to compare the benefits the new Actros truck brings to a fleet.