Hauling heavy mixture masses over tough roads – or no roads in any respect – can go away a driver feeling like they’ve spent their day in a cage battle with the steering wheel as their opponent. However Mack Vehicles’ Command Steer variable steering expertise makes the job lots simpler, detecting wheel inputs not coming from the steering wheel and serving to the motive force overcome them with lots much less bodily effort.
The top end result, says Mack, is a less-fatigued driver on the finish of a shift. Command Steer additionally helps enhance driver productiveness and security. And the advantages of the expertise translate effectively to on-highway purposes the place completely different eventualities produce the identical forms of challenges for drivers.
Launched in 2021, Mack lastly had the prospect to ask editors to expertise Command Steer first-hand this week, at H&Okay’s sprawling Easton, Penn., limestone quarry.
The way it works
Command Steer shouldn’t be confused with lane holding help. It doesn’t contain cameras that hunt down lane markings and actively preserve a truck centered within the lane, nor will you discover lane markings in a quarry just like the 250-foot-deep limestone pit the place we have been driving.
What it does do is drastically reduce the drive the motive force should put into the steering wheel when turning or negotiating tough terrain. Sensors all through the truck monitor greater than 2,000 inputs a second, together with driver and environmental inputs, corresponding to potholes or bumps within the street.
An electrical steering motor mounted to the steering gear can present as much as 11 Nm of torque help into the steering shaft to easy out harsher inputs. What does 11 Nm equate to? About 10.7 lb. of help, based on Tim Wrinkle, senior product supervisor – vocational and medium-duty vehicles with Mack.
Put one other method, driver effort is lowered by as much as 85%, which research have proven reduces fatigue by 30% over the course of a workday. Command Steer is aware of when to assist out primarily based on the motive force’s steering wheel angle in comparison with harsh wheel inputs from environmental elements. Principally, it is aware of what the motive force’s intentions are, in addition to how the street itself is opposing these intentions, and involves the motive force’s support.
“If the wheel senses a big drive corresponding to a pothole or a log, it’s going to place an enormous drive onto the entrance wheel,” Wrinkle defined. “If there’s no steering angle change from the motive force, it can compensate [for] that drive and preserve the truck going straight.”
Advantages for drivers
Conditions during which the motive force will profit embody navigating tough roads and precision steering at low speeds together with backing maneuvers. I encountered a spread of those circumstances within the H&Okay quarry, starting with a slalom course that required aggressive steering to navigate. The Mack Granite with Command Steer was noticeably simpler to steer by way of the pilons than an analogous truck – each loaded with 20 tons of mixture – that didn’t have Command Steer. That was over a comparatively easy gravel floor.
Subsequent up have been some huge potholes. I used to be jostled round in each vehicles, however the one with Command Steer stored its course even once I took my palms of the wheel. There was no wrestling with the steering wheel to maintain the truck operating straight as there was within the Granite with out Command Steer.
One other good function is “return to zero.” The steering wheel instantly spun again to its centered place once I eliminated my palms.
Out there on-highway
A pair Mack Anthem freeway tractors have been additionally accessible to check the expertise, as it’s supplied in on-highway purposes as effectively. You gained’t typically discover an Anthem in these kinds of circumstances, however the advantages are nonetheless there on-highway – even when it’s underneath completely different circumstances.
At increased freeway speeds, it’s greater than a driver consolation function – it’s additionally able to bettering security. Consider the trouble it takes to steer a truck down a freeway with sturdy crosswinds buffeting the aspect of a 53-foot trailer. Command Steer will take out numerous the trouble the motive force has to place into reacting to these crosswinds.
And sudden inputs — corresponding to dropping a tire onto the gravel shoulder of a paved street, blowing a steer tire, or hitting a pothole – are additionally smoothed out so the motive force is much less prone to lose management of the automobile.
It is going to even assist when driving on a freeway with tire grooves within the street floor, identified Stu Russoli, freeway product supervisor with Mack Vehicles.
“We’re extraordinarily profitable with gas haulers,” he added, noting they’ve to keep up exact management of their vehicles whereas transporting gas to busy fuel stations. “They wish to put Command Steer on all the pieces. To have the ability to simply barely contact the steering wheel and transfer round is essential.”
Conscious of mild steering wheel inputs
Again on the H&Okay quarry, the Anthems have been extraordinarily aware of mild steering wheel inputs providing almost easy precision steering. At increased speeds, the steering tightens as much as provide that extra acquainted really feel. Principally, there’s not any must battle the steering wheel all day. It’s intuitive, always alert and there to assist right away.
Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of Mack gross sales and communications operations, mentioned the corporate sees it as a helpful driver recruitment and retention software for fleets which can be struggling to seek out and preserve drivers.
“The truth is, getting truck drivers within the cab and holding truck drivers within the cab stays a problem for all operators whatever the section they’re in,” he mentioned. Command Steer helps in 3 ways, bettering: driver consolation; productiveness; and fatigue, he added, equating Command Steer to the arrival of energy steering.
Command Steer is accessible for order now on the Mack Granite and Anthem.