Volvo adds new safety features

Volvo Truck Corp. (VTC) has developed several new safety features for its new FH16 European commercial truck that may make an appearance in the United States at some point in the future. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is a rollover protection system that uses wheel brake sensors to determine if the truck is in danger of tipping over, skidding, or jackknifing, said Claes Avedal, VTC's director of accident research. The system uses the engine brake and reatrder to reduce power to avoid those situations, not the wheel brakes, and extending brake life. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is an optional feature designed much like Eaton's VORAD system here in the U.S. Volvo's ACC uses radar to maintain proper distance from other vehicles in traffic, again using the engine brake and retarded to do so. It also has an alert function to warn the truck driver if another vehicle violates his 'safe zone' in front of his truck.Finally, Volvo has developed what it calls 'Hill Start Aid' which deploys the brakes on a hill and keeps them locked until enough power to move the truck is indicated -- then the brakes are automatically released, said Avedal. However, this system can only be used on trucks equipped with Electronically Controlled Braking Systems (ECBS) -- a technology not yet used in the U.S."These systems are designed to reduce the stress and workload on drivers for one reason: so their eyes focus on the road," Avedal said.

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