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Detroit Assurance 5.0: The FAQ—everything you need to know about the new safety system suite

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Jason Morgan is the content director of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 15 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

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Early in 2019, Daimler Trucks North America (DNTA) announced that the Detroit Assurance 5.0 suite of safety systems would enable the OEM to put the first Level 2 automated heavy-duty truck on the road when the model year 2020 Freightliner new Cascadia rolls off the line later this year. During a recent press event, DTNA detailed the technology that makes this possible. The safety systems aim to mitigate collisions and enhance the driver experience through assistance systems. Certainly there are a lot of questions surrounding this technology. I talked with Brian Daniels, manager of Detroit powertrain and component projects, and put together this handy Frequently Asked Questions guide. So let’s get started.

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What is Detroit Assurance 5.0?

Detroit Assurance 5.0 is the latest iteration of the Detroit’s suite of advanced safety and driver assistance systems. The system was first launched as a 2.0 system in 2014, which included the introduction of Active Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. Today, Detroit Assurance 5.0 includes a host of features that include Adaptive Cruise Control to 0 MPH, Side Guard Assist, and Active Lane Assist, which includes Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Protection.

Okay, so what exactly are the features?

Detroit Assurance 5.0, as a whole, is an option for model year 2020 Freightliner new Cascadia trucks. It’s available for order now with full production ramping up in September. Within the optional suite of safety system offering, there is a set of standard features as well as à la carte optional features.

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Here’s what’s included as standard features if you decide to invest in the Detroit Assurance 5.0 option:

  • Active Brake Assist (ABA) 5.0
    -Full braking on moving pedestrian (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)
    -Full braking on moving, stopped and stationary objects
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) down to 0 MPH (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)
  • Lane Departure Warning*
  • Traffic Sign Display (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)*
  • Intelligent High-Beam (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)*
  • Automatic wipers and headlamps (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)**

Additionally, these optional features are available:

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  • Active Lane Assist (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)*
    -Lane Departure Protection
    -Lane Keep Assist
  • Side Guard Assist (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0)***
  • Video Capture (Requires Bendix SafetyDirect)
  • Driver-Facing Camera (New with Detroit Assurance 5.0) (Requires Bendix SafetyDirect)

*Forward-facing camera technology only
** Rain/light
***Side-mounted radar technology

What enables the “New with Detroit Assurance 5.0” features?

In previous iterations of Detroit Assurance (2.0 and 4.0), the features were either radar- or camera-based. Detroit Assurance 5.0 is the marriage of radar and high-definition camera technology. Take Active Brake Assist, for example. The bumper-mounted radar and the windshield-mounted camera communicate with the ABS system in real time. The system tracks up to 40 objects at once and identifies the top six by level of threat while refreshing 200 times per second.

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Tell me more about Active Brake Assist: What is it and how does it work?

Active Brake Assist 5.0 (ABA 5.0) is an always-on collision mitigation system that detects the distances to objects in its path, calculates speed, and determines if a warning or braking action is necessary. In addition, ABA 5.0 features full braking on stationary and moving objects.

Here’s a handy picture explaining how it works:

Detroit-Assurance-5-How-Active-Brake-Assist-Works-WEB-2

‘Moving objects’ – does that include people?

Yes. In the case of a moving pedestrian who is about to cross the truck’s path, an audible and visual warning occurs with the truck simultaneously braking to a full stop.

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So a person walks in front of the truck and it will automatically stop?

Again, this is a collision mitigation system. Look, regardless of how good these systems get, the driver is always the first line of defensive when driving. In the event of an emergency situation, Detroit Assurance 5.0 system is designed to stop the truck. It’s a cool system that instills confidence, but there are only two things that are certain in life.

Okay, how is Active Brake Assist different from Adaptive Cruise Control? And what does “down to 0 MPH” actually mean?

Adaptive Cruise Control is, as the name states, a cruise control system that automatically adjusts the Freightliner new Cascadia’s cruising speed to maintain a safe following distance—3.6 seconds by default on the new Cascadia—from other vehicles in its path. The following distance can be adjusted between 2.4 and 3.6 seconds within the interactive dash display.

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“Down to 0 MPH” means that the truck will slow to a full stop automatically in the event that traffic slows down ahead of it. (Think: stop-and-go traffic.)

How is that different from other Adaptive Cruise Control systems?

Other adaptive cruise systems on the market will currently shut off when the truck drops below a certain speed. It varies offering to offering. By way of example, if the truck drops down to, say, 35 MPH, adaptive cruise shuts off and the driver is responsible for braking and acceleration. With Detroit Assurance 5.0’s Adaptive Cruise Control, it will take the truck down to a full stop.

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I get it. Will it re-launch itself once traffic ahead of the truck starts moving again?

Yes… under certain circumstances. If the vehicle in front comes to a stop, the new Cascadia will also come to a full stop—0 MPH—and hold indefinitely. If the vehicle in front starts to move within two seconds of coming to a stop, then the truck will resume moving at a safe following distance. If the complete stop is longer than two seconds, then the driver must push the throttle or press set/resume.

That’s pretty cool.

Yeah, it is. Here’s another visual of what you’d see on the dash as well as a tailgate-warning explainer:

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All right, let’s stay on the assistance systems. Active Lane Assist—that’s an option, right? What does it do?

It is an additional option to the already optional Detroit Assurance 5.0, yes.

There are two components to Active Lane Assist should you choose to spec it. The first is Lane Departure Protection, which auto-enables once speed exceeds 37 MPH. The camera system detects the reflective paint and raised reflectors in lane markers.

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The screen called out in the center of the windshield in this concept image is an example of what the driver sees within the display between the tachometer and odometer.

If the truck crosses those markers without the driver using a turn signal, a Lane Departure Warning–an audible warning is sent through the corresponding speaker on the side of the truck that crosses the lane marker—will be issued, a visual warning will be displayed on the instrument panel, and Lane Departure Protection will activity steer the truck back into its lane.

Wait, the truck will actively steer itself?

Yes. Even in non-lane departure situations thanks to Lane Keep Assist, the second component within the Active Lane Assist option.

When Adaptive Cruise Control is enabled, Lane Keep Assist uses micro-steering movements to keep the new Cascadia centered in its detected lane. Active Lane Keep works at all speeds, but some road curves may be too sharp for this feature.

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No way—so my drivers can take their hands off the wheel and this thing will stay in its lane?

Now wait a minute. The truck can maintain the lane but the driver absolutely cannot take his hands off the wheel. Here’s what happens if he does:

  • At 15 seconds of no steering wheel contact: The system will display a yellow warning message telling the driver to put his hands back on the wheel.
  • At 30 seconds of no steering wheel contact: A red warning message will be displayed and an audible alarm will sound every five seconds.
  • At 55 to 60 seconds of no steering wheel contact: the audible alert sounds every second.
  • At 60 seconds of no steering wheel contact: The audible alert will continue every second and Lane Keep Assist will be disabled.

Now, this is important: While Lane Keep Assist (the lane-centering system) will be disabled, Lane Departure Protection (the system that steers the truck back into the lane in the event of it leaving without signaling) will continue to be enabled.

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The truck will throw a misuse fault code if the driver takes his hands off the wheel for more than 60 seconds several times in a row. The code will be exported via the Detroit Connect Safety Analytics report for you, as the fleet manager, to review, and Lane Keep Assist (again, the centering system) will be disabled until the key is cycled. Lane Departure Protection will continue to function.

So it’s not self-driving?

Well, it’s better to call it automated. Remember these are assistance systems. Driver awareness and input is still necessary for the system to operate. However, it can reduce driver fatigue as the truck operates both forward and lateral controls when these systems are active. So it’s self-driving to a degree, but it’s definitely not driverless. Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Assist put the Freightliner new Cascadia into the Level 2 automated vehicle category.

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What other assistance systems are available?

Side Guard Assist. The system detects objects in the truck’s blind spot and warns the driver not to change into an occupied lane or make a right turn that would cause the truck to contact an object or person. There is an indicator light built into the passenger side A-pillar as well as a warning displayed in the instrument cluster.

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Is this the same system that Daimler debuted in Germany during IAA?

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It’s similar, but not exactly the same. The braking, for instance, is still the driver’s responsibility in the Freightliner new Cascadia. Currently, there is no active braking on side objects.

Okay. Wow, this is a lot to take in.

It is. And let’s not forget about the automatic windshield wiper and high-beam headlight controls.

That’s right, how do those work?

Magic. At least it seems like it. In reality it’s built on the camera system as well as other sensors. There’s actually a rain sensor in the windshield-mounted camera that tells the wipers to turn on.

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I’ve been reading up on camera options, does Detroit Assurance 5.0 include both front-facing and driver-facing cameras?

A front-facing camera is standard, but the driver-facing camera is optional. Both cameras continuously record HD video to capture any severe events. In such an event, a total of 20 to 30 seconds of recording—along with other vehicle parameter data—is transmitted to the Bendix SafetyDirect web portal for fleet operators and safety personnel to download and analyze. A subscription to said Bendix portal is required.

If you’re looking for more on camera systems and navigating the operational and implementation challenges, click here for our in-depth story on that.

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So let me guess: The front-facing camera also reads traffic signs, which enables the traffic sign display.

You got it. Signs such as the current speed limit and No Passing signs are displayed in the driver information screen embedded in the instrument cluster where all the warnings and system information is also displayed.

About those warnings. I get that the driver sees them, but if they have an Active Brake Assist event or no-hands-on-the-wheel warning, will I see that as the fleet manager?

Definitely. All of the warnings that are triggered are rolled into the Detroit Connect portal under safety reporting, except for the Side Guard Assist.

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Well, this was helpful. Thanks! But it sure would be great to see these systems in action.

Got you covered:

Stay tuned a video blog of the day I spent with the model year 2020 Freightliner new Cascadia equipped with Detroit Assurance 5.0

And as always, keep it tuned to Fleet Equipment for the latest news and in-depth stories.

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