Daimler debuts Actros with Telligent technology
Daimler debuts the a 20th anniversary special edition Mercedes-Benz Actros — the first truck in the MENA region to exhibit Active Brake Assist and the Telligent driver assist safety technologies
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy truck in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Daimler has launched a special edition unit with far more than just a change of livery.
The 20 years Actros (a 3844 S 6x4 truck) also brings the German truck maker’s proprietary driver assistance technologies to the region for the very first time, including Active Brake Assist, Telligent Lane Assistant, Telligent Proximity Control, anti-lock braking and acceleration skid control.
All of these technologies are aimed at lowering the burden on the driver and increasing road safety, and their introduction represents a massive leap forward in terms of the sophistication of the safety systems being offered in the region — though even Mercedes-Benz Trucks admits it may be a little ahead of the curve. But as a statement, it is strong.
This is no mere showpiece: the technologies present in the special edition Actros are now available for order by customers across the MENA region upon request.
In a region where road accidents involving heavy vehicles are frequent, fatality rates high and the situation on the roads unpredictable, the potential and future adoption of these technologies is clear.
The introduction of automated gearboxes in the region was slow at first, but once fleet and plant managers accepted that the total cost of ownership was decreasing — thanks to the reduction in wear to the clutch and gearbox and the simplification for the drivers — the rate of adoption quickly sped up.
Asked if the adoption of driver assist technologies might follow a similar trajectory, Roland Schneider, president and CEO of Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA, says: “The region is almost always a little bit reluctant to adopt new technology — that’s the truth. But I would be happy if the safety systems are picked up at the same speed that we see with the Power-Shift, because we’ve seen a very positive response from those customers who were in favour of it.
“Once they have it in the fleets then they clearly see the advantages and they are quite happy with it. Now we have to encourage the same for the safety systems. But this is not going to happen overnight, and we have other technologies that it will take some time to get off the ground here in the Middle East.”
In terms of the other specifications of the special edition Actros, it is equipped with a Mercedes-Benz Power-Shift 16-speed automated gearshift, hydraulic retarder and V6 Euro 3 engine delivering 435hp and 2,100Nm of torque while ensuring high fuel-efficiency, reliability and minimised wear and tear.
The limited edition Actros 3844 S 6x4 truck also has a striking livery, with a carbon black paint finish with silver stripes, an LED-lit Mercedes-Benz star, chrome finished air-horns and a ‘20 Years Actros’ emblem.
But the key highlights of the Actros 20 Years edition are its safety features, which provide both the maximum active and passive safety — an area that Daimler has been pioneering in the industry for more than 50 years.
Besides the standard electronically controlled Telligent braking system with anti-lock braking system and acceleration skid control, the truck is also equipped with the optional Active Brake Assist.
This system operates with three radar beams that constantly scans an area of up to 200 meters ahead of the truck in good conditions. It uses the radar to detect any moving obstacle that presents a collision threat and signals the driver with a both visual and audible alerts. If the driver does not react to the threat, the system will react by performing a partial braking manoeuvre, applying 50% of the engine brake power, and after another second, if necessary, performs an emergency brake.
Thus, the Active Brake Assist helps to avoid dangerous rear-end collisions in situations where other vehicles unexpectedly slow or stop on the road — such as in a traffic jam — and minimises the impact for the occupants of both vehicles where a collision is inevitable.
At Bab Al Shams, a Daimler team is on hand to take the system for a spin. For the demonstration, the assembled attendees pile into a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that heads out onto the road, followed by the 20 years Actros, and gets up to speed before braking suddenly on the road. The following 20 years Actros quickly approaches the rear-view window of the Sprinter — an experience that despite a foreknowledge of proceedings remains unnerving. When the trucks gets close it slows suddenly as the partial braking kicks in and then, a second later, jolts to a stop. Schneider notes: “The technology is ready and it can be proven — so this is also part of it, actually showing it in operation on the road in the UAE.”
From inside the cab of the truck, the experience is much the same, except the visual and audible warnings kick in a second before the automatic braking — but the emergency stop is surprisingly gentle thanks to the whole second of partial braking that precedes it.
Overall, the technology is a powerful safeguard that should be of strong interest in a region where driver alertness is a significant concern for fleet managers and the industry at large. In reality, Active Brake Assist is a system that remains passive 99.9% of the time — but in those few instances where it is required, it makes a huge difference to the outcome.
The system should be of immediate interest to parties in the oil and gas industry or other industries where the contents of a tanker is hazardous and the risk profile is raised.
The same could apply to any large fleet customers, adds Schneider, depending on their goods, operation and market positioning. He notes: “If they want to invest and be frontrunners on safety then they have a good opportunity with the truck.”
But this is just the beginning, as the 20 years Actros also features Telligent Lane Assistant, which features a digital camera behind the windscreen that detecting the vehicle position in relation to the left-hand and right-hand lane markings. If the vehicle accidentally strays in its traffic lane, the system provides audible warning signals that resemble the sound of corrugated rumble strips from either the left or the right of the cabin — depending on the direction in which truck is straying.
The final Telligent technology is Proximity Control, which is like a cruise control, but automatically adjusts the speed of the truck according to the traffic situation, allowing the driver to specify a minimum stopping distance between their truck and any vehicles in front — or even to have the truck automatically match the speed of the vehicle in front.
Serious about safety
Together, the three technologies provide a powerful suite of both passive and active safeguards that directly address the known causes of serious truck accidents.
In Europe, some 33% of all serious truck accidents are caused by rear-end collisions, and in 39% of those cases, the brakes had not been applied, while in a further 20% of cases only partial braking occurred. If you aggregate these two scenarios where emergency braking did not occur, they account for 19.4% of all truck accidents — and both scenarios would be either eliminated or reduced in severity by Daimler’s Active Brake Assist system.
A further 39% of all serious truck accidents in Europe are caused by track guidance accidents — 36% of which involved unintended lane changes and 31% of which involved straying off the road. These scenarios could also be mitigated or prevented in the presence of Daimler’s Telligent Lane Assistant.
In the MENA region, where accident rates even are higher, the use of both systems makes even more sense for operators and owners.
Schneider adds: “Mercedes is clearly very innovative in terms of safety. We are taking the first steps knowing that this might not be the standard in a year, but we are actively pushing for it — that’s the Mercedes way.”
As for the 20 years Actros itself, the unit it ready and waiting for an adventurous buyer.
But Daimler has not gone in blind with the introduction of the Telligent systems in the region — MENA clients had already expressed enough interest to justify making the systems options in the region.
The challenge will be to get a customer in the passenger seat, as Schneider adds: “This is not something which you can just put on a piece of paper — you really have to see it or feel it when you are in the truck.”