The world’s truck manufacturers have been moving towards a touch screen dashboard for some time and this process has taken a major step forward with the introduction of the new Actros from Mercedes Benz.
The ‘Multimedia Cockpit’ consists of two large customisable tablet screens that present information in crisp detail, giving the driver more control and information in a clear and stylish manner.
The introduction of the multimedia cockpit sees Mercedes Benz ahead of the pack with its development of soft switches. The large touchscreen near the driver’s left hand on the wraparound dash is configurable to include any kind of switch on the screen as required by the operator. At the moment there are 230 different switches which are available for configuration if required. All they need to be is programmed in.
When confronted with the two screens for the first time and getting a rundown of all the available options, Diesel News found the concept can be a little daunting. However, the fact of the matter is that there are enough options so that a driver can custom build what they see on which screen and when. We’re no longer dealing with a dashboard we’re dealing with a platform on which a dashboard can be designed by the driver.
There is more to come, although the functionality is not fitted in this particular iteration of the new system, it will be possible to develop apps which will run on the new system to perform the other functions for the operator or driver. This may help avoid the proliferation of screens in some truck cabs and enable all of the driver’s necessary information to be available on the information screen on the wraparound.
Along with this new electronic architecture comes something which Mercedes-Benz is calling predictive powertrain control. Essentially, the topographical mapping data already loaded into the truck will anticipate the requirements in the driveline to cope with what is on the road ahead.
This means the cruise control will cut-off power just before the top of a rise and allow the truck to coast over the top. It should also go down a gear or increase rpm at the foot of a climb in an attempt to maintain momentum. It will constantly select the optimum shift pattern and engine response for maximum fuel economy
Also new for the truck industry is the The new Actros introduces the fifth-generation of the Mercedes-Benz Active Brake Assist system, a radar/camera system which can now automatically perform full emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians.
“We’re excited about bringing our Australian customers the world’s best heavy truck technology and give them an edge by driving down costs and helping increase their profitability,” said Andrew Assimo, Director of Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia Pacific. “The existing Actros has been great on fuel, but the new one is even better. That’s certainly the message we’ve been receiving from our validation fleet participants.”
At the end of the day the new Mercedes Benz is a clear technology leader, at the moment. The strength of the Daimler organisation is that the kind of development work to design the hardware and software which make all of these innovations possible can be used right across all of the product, from small cars to the biggest trucks. This makes the kind of research and development costs required to remain at the cutting edge are less per vehicle than they are for competitors who only build trucks.