Mack takes a safer stance

By: Steve Brooks


The Bulldog and Bendix join forces for safety package

Mack takes a safer stance
Impressive. Mack Granite with Bendix Wingman Fusion system remains completely stable under heavy braking on a super-slick DECA skid pan.

 

In a move to significantly bolster its credibility in the safety stakes, Mack Trucks Australia is partnering with US technology giant Bendix to offer a suite of advanced safety systems.

The safety package will be offered on most Mack on-highway models and is expected to be fully available by around the time of the Brisbane Truck Show in May next year.

Bendix is nowadays the US arm of German technology giant Knorr-Bremse and the safety system being adopted by Mack in both the US and Australia is the latest development by Bendix.

Known as Bendix Wingman Fusion, the safety package follows the earlier introduction of an electronic stability program marketed as Mack’s ‘Road Safety Advantage’ and signals a definite move by corporate parent Volvo to draw the famous bulldog brand deeper into Volvo’s safety ethos.

Volvo Group Australia chief Peter Voorhoeve is known to be particularly keen to enhance Mack’s safety credentials. He indicated earlier this year that Mack is well advanced with the development of an entirely new cab and accordingly, safety will "play a major part" in the design.

The likelihood, however, is that it’ll be at least another year or two before the new cab comes to market but in the meantime, Mack is for the first time now in a position to offer comprehensive safety and crash mitigation systems equal to those available on Volvo’s US models.    

Commenting on the upcoming introduction of the Bendix system, Mack Trucks Australia vice-president Dean Bestwick said the company, "… is extremely proud to offer the Bendix Wingman Fusion driver assistance system, a world-first for Mack Trucks and for the Australian and New Zealand conventional truck markets."

 

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Bendix and Knorr-Bremse leading applications engineer, Brett Nicoll. 

 

Integrating the latest camera, radar and braking technology, he says the system provides, "… one of the most comprehensive and powerful driver assistance systems available on conventional trucks in Australia and New Zealand."

The Bendix Wingman Fusion system includes collision mitigation features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, information on following distance and stationary objects, blind spot alerts, and as with some of the most advanced safety systems in Europe, Wingman Fusion – when operating in concert with Mack’s ‘Road Safety Advantage’ system – has the ability to activate service brakes in emergency situations.

A model that misses out on the full Fusion system is Mack’s popular suburban specialist, the Metro-Liner. It is, however, available with Bendix’s ‘Blindspotter’ function designed to reduce the risk of side-swipe accidents by recognising objects within a 120 degree arc on the passenger side of the truck. An audible warning informs the driver of an object within the blind area immediately beside the truck.

"Blindspotter is a perfect aid for suburban applications," commented Dean Bestwick.

 

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Close call. It’s all about avoiding the impact but technology does not replace an alert driver.

 

Importantly though, he makes the point that while the Bendix array of collision mitigation functions is a valuable aid, "… this system will not replace an alert or skilled driver."

It was a statement similarly emphasised by Brett Nicoll, lead applications engineer for Knorr-Bremse Australia, during a hands-on preview of the various system functions at the Driver Education Centre of Australia (DECA) facility in Shepparton (Vic).

On a day of high wind and heavy rain, the performance of the Bendix Wingman Fusion system fitted to a heavily laden Mack Granite on the slick DECA skid-pan and surrounding tracks was hugely impressive.

However, as Brett Nicoll emphasised, "As good as these systems are, the technology is about collision mitigation, not collision prevention."

The DECA facility plays a key role in testing of Knorr-Bremse and Bendix systems, he added, with calibration and testing of the Wingman Fusion programs in Mack starting back in February this year. 

 

 

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