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Level 2 Autonomous Technology in Semi-Trucks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared that 94 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error. With this thought in mind, semi-truck makers are installing technology that further assists the driver and corrects any mistakes made on the road. One such maker is Daimler Inc., parent company to Freightliner. Their newest model, the 2020 Freightliner Cascadia, is a level 2 autonomous vehicle, which means that the truck can steer, accelerate, and brake, but still needs a driver to operate. It's not a fully autonomous vehicle (level 4), but it is a step in that direction.

Level 2 tech isn't intended to reduce cost by taking the driver out of the trucking picture. Its intent is rather to drastically reduce trucking accidents, thereby saving lives and sharply decreasing the number of lawsuits brought against freight companies.

 These are a few features That Semi Truck level 2 tech provides:

  • Active Lane Assist: Two components of ALA are lane keep assist (LKA) and lane departure protection (LDP). LPD prevents the vehicle from drifting over road lines while LKA keeps the truck centered within the lane. Level 2 systems can detect if the steering wheel is not handled. It will activate visual and audible alert signals, increasing in annoyance until the driver grabs the wheel. If the sensors don't detect hands on the steering wheel after 60 seconds, LKA will deactivate while LDP and collision mitigation remain active. The truck will bounce from right to left, but not out of lane, and these movements should jar the driver into action.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: Also called ACC to 0, this feature speeds up and slows down the truck according to traffic. It maintains a 3.5 second distance from the object ahead and will brake when traffic comes to a standstill, then accelerate along with the other vehicles. If traffic stops for more than 2 seconds, the truck remains stopped and the driver must get the truck going by hitting the resume/set button. This prevents accidents resulting from pedestrians suddenly walking in front of the stopped truck as traffic moves forward.
  • Active Brake Assist: This feature helps the driver by stopping the truck before striking an object, such as a car or pedestrian. ABA uses a radar component with an advanced camera that can recognize human movement ahead and immediately stop the truck. The radar works with the camera and takes over when the camera is offline or ineffective, such as through heavy fog. 

There are many other features of this Level 2 autonomous system, such as Lane Change Assist and Turn Assist, but The driver has the final say over most of these features in order to make irregular maneuvers, such as moving over for emergency vehicles. Some features of the level 2 system rely on reflective road paint or lane markers, so it does not work in all situations on all roads. Unmarked roads or those with faded paint will be fully managed by the driver.

If you are interested in big rigs and semi-truck technology please contact us to learn more.

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