By: Tycho de Feijter for 6th Gear Automotive Solutions. Beijing, September 2018

Mercedes-Benz has launched their new Actros heavy duty truck. The Actros is fitted with a new automated braking system called Active Brake Assist. The system works with a combination of cameras and radar sensors. It is able to detect and identify potential collisions with vehicles or pedestrians. In cases where the system senses a low severity, it will initially only warn the driver. If the driver fails to react, it will brake automatically and bring the truck to a full stop. When the system senses a high severity, it will immediately emergency-brake, stopping the truck and applying the parking brake to prevent any further movement.

Active Brake Assist is a part of Active Drive Assist, a larger low-level semi-autonomous driving system. Other features include a lane-departure warning system, active cruise control, and an interesting new sub-system called Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC). PPC uses the same cameras and radar sensors as Active Brake Assist, but uses the data to minimize fuel consumption. It can autonomously adjust speed and gear. Mercedes-Benz claims that PPC reduces fuel consumption by about 5%. Finally, Active drive Assist does away with mirrors. They are replaced with shiny boomerang-shaped cameras above the side windows, and the imagery is displayed on…

… flat screens on each side of the cabin.

While impressive, Active Drive Assists is not without flaws. Mercedes-Benz says that the driver has to have his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the roads at all time. It is, as the name of the system implies, an assistance system, not a driver-replacement system. Active Brake Assist is limited even further; it only works until a speed of 50 km/h. so it is useless on the highway. But given that most accidents with trucks happen within city limits, it is a huge step forward nevertheless.