The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Freightliner Completes Field Operational Test With U.S. DOT to Improve Vehicle Safety & Reliability

December 18, 2006

PORTLAND, OR – Freightliner LLC has completed a three-year study with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) — a field-operational test of electronically controlled braking systems (ECBS) and other safety technologies. Conducted as part of the DOT’s initiative to accelerate deployment of new safety technologies that reduce accidents and fatalities, the study’s results will be used to improve truck safety systems’ performance, reliability, durability, and maintainability. The study tested the compatibility of combinations of tractors and trailers equipped with ABS, ECBS, disc and drum brakes, and enabled safety technologies. These technologies included adaptive cruise control (ACC), yaw stability control, roll stability control, and air disc brakes. In 2003, the DOT awarded the cooperative research project to Freightliner LLC and its team, which included Wal-Mart, Battelle, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, Meritor WABCO, and the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center. Freightliner LLC collaborated with Wal-Mart to offer a test fleet of 48 new Freightliner Columbia tractors with 58-inch SleeperCabs to the project. The trucks were equipped with on-board computers, ECBS, and ABS. Similarly, Wal-Mart agreed to outfit 100 new Great Dane trailers with the technology required of the field test. The fleet was then operated out of Wal-Mart’s distribution center in Loveland, Colo., to collect vehicle onboard system data, maintenance data, and driver experience data. The Freightliner tractors were separated into two groups. The first group consisted of 40 tractors and 60 trailers used to determine the compatibility and performance of unmatched combinations of tractors and trailers equipped with ECBS or ABS. The second group of eight tractors was used to measure ECBS and ECBS-enabled safety technologies on matched tractor-trailers with brake control systems from the same manufacturer. Making one or more 300-mile round-trips a day, each Freightliner truck distributed perishable and dry goods between Wal-Mart hubs, distribution centers, and outlying stores. The location of the Loveland facility was specifically selected to test the trucks as they ran through a range of weather conditions as well as a variety of routes including highways, urban areas, and mountainous terrain. Data was recorded over an initial six-month period from May to Oct. 2005, with enabled technologies in the vehicles turned off. During the second six-month period from November 2005 to April 2006, the technologies were fully functional and interactive. Official test analysis from the DOT is expected soon.
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