Lane keeping, the electronic power steering-enabled technology included in advanced safety packages in more passenger cars every year, is coming to commercial vehicles.
The first European customer of automotive parts manufacturer Robert Bosch LLC will get the system later this year.
“I would say over the next two- or three-year time frame, you’ll see a lot of [manufacturers] announce what they’re going to do,” said Jason Roycht, a Bosch North America vice president who leads its commercial and offroad business. “Electric steering is not used very much in the trucking industry. It’s all hydraulic. With some of these older systems, you have to have big forearms to operate the vehicle.”
Bosch had planned to demonstrate lane keeping this week at its Mobility Experience USA event at its proving grounds in Flat Rock, Mich. but backed off at the last minute. Engineers were unhappy with its performance in testing.
But they know it works. Roycht said truckers who tried the EPS-actuated system liked it better than lane-departure warning, which typically sounds a chime when a drift begins. While EPS is about comfort and feel in passenger cars “those are things the commercial vehicle industry doesn’t care so much about,” he said.
What the trucking industry does care about is total cost of ownership. And if EPS and autonomous technologies can reduce driver fatigue and improve safety, the truck makers are listening. Add in incremental fuel savings and you’ve really got their attention.
Bosch’s Servotwin, an electro-hydraulic steering system offers speed-dependent steering support with active response. It consumes less fuel than purely hydraulic steering. An electronic control unit receives what a high-mounted camera watching lane markings sees and nudges the cab back into its lane.
“I would say this is more important for a commercial vehicle than for light-duty vehicles,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Navigant Research. “In a passenger car, it is generally easier to recover control. With a big truck, once things start to go wrong, it’s a lot harder to recover.”
Roycht said he thinks the Servotwin as an enabler to more automation could be a better solution for commercial vehicles than pure EPS, which would require much higher-torque motors.
“We’re going to approach a window in the next five years or so where there will be significant upgrades made to all the trucks,” he said. “That will be where OEMs, together with their fleet customers, will have to take a look at this.”