Kenworth technology demonstrator showcases security, safety

May 1, 2002
SECURITY, safety, and productivity are the focus of Kenworth's latest high-tech concept vehicle. It was first shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

SECURITY, safety, and productivity are the focus of Kenworth's latest high-tech concept vehicle. It was first shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“In today's world, it's imperative for truck manufacturers to push the envelope by providing fleets with effective security and safety technology,” says Ed Caudill, Kenworth general manager and Paccar vice-president. “This new Kenworth T800 High-Tech Truck has technology that could be part of a secret agent's repertoire — biometric authentication, GPS-based tracking systems, Surround Electronic Vision, Kenworth Night Vision, and high-intensity headlamps.”

Kenworth teamed with Heil Trailer International to produce a high-tech combination specifically designed for bulk haulers, which typically transport cargo such as fuel and hazardous materials. Tractor and trailer systems are integrated electronically.

The truck's key security technology is a biometric authentication system, which checks a driver's authorization to operate a specific truck within a fleet.

“When the driver's fingerprint is verified via a sensor, the truck can be started and operated at normal traffic speeds,” says Jim Bechtold, chief engineer for KW. “Once behind the wheel, the driver inserts a finger into the sensor mounted in the dash panel. If it matches the fingerprint stored in the vehicle system, authorization is sent to the engine controller. If the fingerprint doesn't match, the vehicle can still be started. But it will have severely restricted horsepower, forcing the combination to run well below normal speed. The dispatcher also receives an alert that an unauthorized user is has the truck.”

The system is manufactured by Bioscrypt in Sherman Oaks, California.

GPS-based tracking allows fleets to track a truck throughout North America. The dispatcher receives information on the driver's identity, adherence to a predetermined and authorized route, vehicle weight, and other data.

“If a truck is stolen, the system allows the truck to be tracked and the driver and cargo found quickly by the authorities,” Bechtold says. “Even if the driver is forced to give a fingerprint, a dispatcher can still disable the truck remotely.”

An electronic vision system provides nearly 360-degrees of coverage around the tractor and trailer to enhance safety while moving and security while parked. The driver can view a flat-panel display screen in the cab that is fed by five cameras.

“There are three cameras on the trailer, including one rear view and two side-view,” Bechtold says. “A curbside camera helps eliminate the blind spot on the passenger side. Forward-looking night vision uses the fifth camera to see 1,500 ft ahead, about five times the reach of normal headlights. This offers the driver additional time to react to potential danger situations in darkness or twilight.”

To help make trips more productive, the vehicle information center provides information on fuel economy, loads, service, and maintenance.

“With information center, the driver can also check current status through electronic tire pressure, electronic brake monitoring, and an Air-Weigh on-board electronic scale,” Bechtold says. “All these systems are fully integrated between the tractor and trailer. The system also offers two-way wireless email messaging.”

High-intensity discharge headlamps offer increased illumination for enhanced safety and decreased driver fatigue. Driver's view during adverse weather conditions has been improved through use of Guardian hydrophobic window glass that has a permanent, water-shedding coating.

“Bulk haulers are concerned about weight, so we've incorporated many lightweight features to help maximize payload,” Bechtold says. “As a result, the tractor only weighs 13,900 pounds.”

Kenworth used Bridgestone's GREATEC wide-based single drive tires and Alcoa aluminum wheels on both tractor and trailer, reducing overall weight by nearly 600 pounds. Other lightweight components include the new AG380 air suspension, ZF Meritor FreedomLine automated transmission, and composite leaf springs. The high-performance brake system features Dana Spicer 16.5" by 5" front drum brakes. To assist with pre-trip inspections, an MGM e-Stroke brake monitoring system is integrated into the vehicle information center. The GPS navigation system is already available as an option on other KW tractors.