Mercedes-Benz Trucks head Stefan Buchner introduces the new Mercedes-Benz Actros. It has more than 60 new features, some of which could well make their way into North American trucks in the future
 - Photo: Deborah Lockridge

Mercedes-Benz Trucks head Stefan Buchner introduces the new Mercedes-Benz Actros. It has more than 60 new features, some of which could well make their way into North American trucks in the future

Photo: Deborah Lockridge

Daimler kicked off the bi-annual IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hannover, Germany, with a flashy highlight of its latest high-tech and electric trucks, vans, and buses for some 500 media representatives from 45 countries.

In 2014, recalled Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Daimler Trucks hosted global journalists for a special demonstration of the Future Truck 2025 concept truck, which demonstrated automated driving functions on a closed section of German autobahn.

“It still gives me goosebumps” to think about it, he told reporters gathered at an airline hangar. “The Future Truck inspired the whole world. Now it’s arrived – the future is here. Four years after presenting the vision of the Future Truck, we are introducing a series production truck with many of the same advantages.”

The new Mercedes-Benz Actros has more than 60 new features. According to Buchner, four of them are world “firsts,” some of which could well make their way into North American trucks in the future (just as the Future Truck 2025 demonstration in 2014 was followed up by the Freightliner Inspiration Truck driving itself across Hoover Dam for reporters the following year.)

The multimedia cockpit features two flat screens with information that can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. 
 - Photo courtesy Daimler Trucks

The multimedia cockpit features two flat screens with information that can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. 

Photo courtesy Daimler Trucks

1. Multimedia cockpit

Instead of gauges and buttons, the dash features two flat screens, like elongated tablets. Both can be controlled via thumbpads on the steering wheel, and the right-hand one is also an intuitive touchscreen.

2. Active Drive Assist

This feature builds on adaptive cruise control to put partially automated driving into series production. The new Active Drive Assist can brake, accelerate and steer independently. Unlike systems that only work at certain speeds, Active Drive Assist offers the driver partially automated driving in all speed ranges for the first time in a series-produced truck, according to Daimler. New elements are the active latitudinal control and the combination of longitudinal and lateral control in all speed ranges through the fusion of radar and camera information. If the truck drifts from its lane, it can automatically steer itself back. “It’s an important step to support the driver, especially on long-distance routes and in annoying traffic jams,” Buchner said. “But as we are still in partly automated mode, he still has his hands on the steering wheel.”

3. Active Brake Assist 5 

Since the launch of Active Brake Assist 1 in 2006, nearly 230,000 trucks from Mercedes-Benz have been sold with the emergency braking assistant on board. Active Brake Assist 5 supports the driver when there is a danger of a rear-end collision or a collision with person crossing, oncoming or walking in the truck’s lane – with an automatic full application of the brakes if necessary. Active Brake Assist 5 now works with a combination of radar and a camera system. This allows it to monitor the space ahead of the vehicle even better and to react to persons in the road even better.

4. Mirror-cams 

The main mirrors and wide-angle mirrors on the new Actors have been replaced by mirror-cams as standard equipment. The mirror-cam The system offers greatly improved all-round visibility, better aerodynamics for improve fuel efficiency, and consists of two cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle and two 15-inch displays on the A-pillars inside the driver's cab. 

Daimler also highlighted its electromobility progress, with a dazzling array of electric vehicles from vans to buses to heavy trucks driving silently into the hangar accompanied by dramatic music and lighting.

The eActros concept truck are designed for practical use and a realistic payload, according to Martin Zeilinger, head of advanced engineering at Merceds-Benz Trucks. 
 - Photo: Deborah Lockridge

The eActros concept truck are designed for practical use and a realistic payload, according to Martin Zeilinger, head of advanced engineering at Merceds-Benz Trucks. 

Photo: Deborah Lockridge

One of those was the eActros concept truck. Martin Zeilinger, head of advanced engineering, told reporters that 10 logistics companies are involved in the testing/demonstration phase, including Nagel, Dachser, Meyer Logistics, and others. The testing will be done in two periods of one year each. Most of the test vehicles are in a 6x2 configuration, but they also are testing some 4x2s.

Zeilinger emphasized that the trucks are designed for practical use and a realistic payload, although they’ll still not be able to carry as much payload as a comparable diesel thanks to the weight of batteries and other equipment. He said they have been validated for up to 200 kilometers of range. Recharging time varies from two to 11 hours depending on the charging option being used.

Also on display at IAA are several series-produced or series-ready electric vehicle models: the Mercedes-Benz eVito, eSprinter vans, the Fuso eCanter and the 'Jouley' from Thomas Built Buses. In addition, the Concept Sprinter F-Cell and the E-Fuso Vision One both provide insights into the electric future.

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