STEERING TO FUTURE DYNAMICS
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.
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