Meritor Wabco is readying a "smart" version of its Electronic Stability Control system that will continuously learn a vehicle's handling dynamics and quickly adapt to changing conditions. Like the current system, which initially learns a vehicle's characteristics, then locks them in, the learning ability eliminates most programming of electronic controls for different configurations.

The upcoming ESC system's advanced self-learning software will continue to learn as the vehicle operates, said Alan Korn, director of vehicle control systems. The learning can compensate for changes such as tire and component wear and realignent work, as well as varying loads, that can slightly or seriously change vehicle dynamics.

The smart system is in final development and field testing, and will be released in January 2014, Korn said.

ESC Smart will work on any power unit, from two- and three-axle road tractors to multi-axle vocational trucks, execs said in a briefing Wednesday. During installation at a truck builder's factory, the basic configuration is entered in the system's electronic controls. If the vehicle differs in specifications such as wheelbase, brake type, and so on, it then is driven briefly to acquaint the controls (via chassis sensors) with what kind of truck it is. A pair of circles that slightly stress its suspensions is enough for such familiarization.

In this way, software specialists needn't write instruction code for every vehicle type, saving as much as 90% in preparation time for the setting up of a new configuration, said specialists during the demonstrations.

ESC systems sense impending rollover incidents and reacts by reducing engine power and applying brakes to try to prevent the accident, Korn said. They usually are caused by drivers heading too fast into a turn, often a freeway exit ramp.

Rollover wrecks happen about 15,000 times a year in the U.S., and are especially expensive and deadly. The ESC Smart product will continue to prevent rollovers, and promises sharper performance as well as installation savings.