Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
MERCEDES-Benz just made its world’s safest hauler even safer. But how exactly they did that is by further improving its proven safety system of the heavy-duty Actros truck with the introduction of the second generation of Active Brake Assist.
In a recently concluded live demonstration conducted by the country’s general distributor of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles Auto Nation Group Inc. (ANG), members of the media were transported to Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga to witness the showcase of the innovative technology through various simulated road pre-collision scenarios.
“We are proud to demonstrate the accuracy and efficiency of the second generation of Active Brake Assist and how it can further help prevent accidents and collisions. We at Auto Nation Group would like to strengthen the presence of the safest truck in the world, the Mercedes-Benz Actros, in our country to make our roads even safer,” said Don Ramos, assistant vice president for commercial vehicles of ANG. “The Actros is by itself a safe and modern truck. With Active Brake Assist 2, truck drivers, passengers, and other motorists on the road are assured of safer roads because of this risk-mitigating technology. Mercedes-Benz puts a premium on safety, and you can expect that we will continue to find ways to ensure our vehicles are always safe and reliable,” he added.
As part of its “Shaping Future Transportation” global initiative, Daimler Trucks has taken a further step toward realizing its vision of accident-free driving. Since the security system’s introduction in 2006 for the Actros heavy-duty truck, it has proven to have prevented accidents and saved many lives as reported by truck drivers around the world. Here, it would further strengthen the brand’s supreme reliability in terms of safety that made the heavy-duty Actros as one of the few preferred European-made heavy-duty haulers by leading petroleum companies and other prime movers.
Safety system overview
PRIOR to the actual demo, a product presentation was conducted by Daimler AG Global Trainer for trucks Frank Stahlberger in order to better understand the technology involved. With the first-generation system, brakes are automatically applied upon a risk of a rear-end collision with a slow-moving vehicle in front of the vehicle is detected. But with the Active Brake Assist 2, the system’s activation can now also detect stationary obstacle on the road like sudden detection of a traffic jam.
The secret behind this unique and multiaward-winning safety feature is its radar-controlled system. This radar apparatus utilized in the Active Brake Assist 2 has the ability to scan 1 to 200-meter area of proximity ahead. In fact, it continuously determines the distance to a vehicle in front or a stationary obstacle, as well as, the difference in speed between the two vehicles. How the system works is that, between the speed of 0 to 89 kilometers per hour (when the speed limiter is activated), the driver receives a visual warning (red light flashes in the instrument panel) along with an audible alarm during the initial stage. When no further action is sensed, the system then reacts by applying 50 percent of maximum braking power. These executions allow the driver to react timely to the appropriate actions in order to prevent the imminent collision. Moreover, the tried-and-tested radar technology even operates robustly under all weather and light conditions.
Other reliable safety features, meantime, are antilock braking system, acceleration skid control, disc brakes all round, electronically controlled braking system, high-pressure braking system, Brake Assist, Lane Assistant, roll control and proximity control.
While the introduced safety system is an optional device, it will only work on new Mercedes-Benz truck models. The standard Actros 3341 unit is priced at P6.4 million, but when fitted with the Active Brake System 2, it is valued at P6.9 million.
Actros in action
FIRST to be simulated was the stationary obstacle scenario. During the series of demonstrations, we witnessed how the Actros managed to achieve a complete halt with safe distances of no less than 10 meters from the vehicle up front even coming from a speed of about 80 km/h. In every complete stops, emergency lights and loud horns were also emitted as a warning to the other vehicle.
When it was time to simulate the situation with a slow-moving vehicle in front, each of us were given the chance to do a shotgun ride with Stahlberger. Inside is nothing short of Mercedes-Benz’s touch of modern-looking, ergonomic, comfy and cool truck cabin. Coming from a far distance, the truck effortlessly cruised and maintained at 80 km/h and the speed control was set. Upon seeing the vehicle upfront fast closing in, it started creating an intense feeling like we’re about to crash. That was the time when the set of warning signals for the initial stage started until the automatic partial braking was felt. Impressively, when the driver finally applied full force braking, there was no excessive nose dive up until the moment we completely stopped at a safe distance.
Meanwhile, gracing the event is none other than Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund M. de Leon to show support to the company’s introduction of Active Brake Assist in the Mercedes-Benz Actros. He also shared that this safety system would also help in the government transport sector’s reform program which includes trucks and busses modernization. “We would like to use devices such as speed limiters and this Active Brake Assist system. We will advocate and in fact, we will push policies that will use these systems.”