In the Freightliner Cascadia, all of the safety systems come grouped together under the appellation of Detroit Assurance 5.0. This includes all of the usual fruit we have come to expect out of the top of the range Daimler trucks, there is Active Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent high beam et al.
There is one system which is available on the Freightliner trucks, which hasn’t yet appeared in Mercedes-Benz or Fuso. This is the Side Guard Assist, which uses a radar which is fitted to the passenger side fuel tank on the prime mover and watches back towards the rear of the truck to see if there is any object there which the driver should be made aware of.
The area covered by the system is quite substantial from five metres behind the rear of the trailer to a few metres in front of the prime mover. If there is a vehicle or any object in that area, and the system calculates that it may be an issue for the truck, it will issue a warning.
This warning consists of a buzzer, coupled with a triangle on the passenger side B pillar which illuminates if something is detected in the danger zone. This system works well, the initial buzzer alerts the driver, making them look towards the passenger side of the vehicle and the illuminated triangle will confirm there is an issue. The driver can then look slightly to the left to check in the mirror if there is anything wrong.
On this test drive the alarm did go off a couple of times with cars sneaking up on the inside at road junctions. On another occasion it warned the driver when the rear trailer got close to a signpost.
Even though the mirrorcam system is available in other Daimler trucks, it has not arrived in the Freightliner product just yet. The original design of the screens were for them to be mounted on the upright A-pillar on the Actros. However, the angled A-pillar on the Cascadia is proving a little more difficult for the engineers to get just right. Perhaps the next iteration of the Cascadia will arrive with this system, if the technology proves to be useful in a North American truck.
There is no doubt that the Cascadia is a truck which has created a lot of interest. The reasons for this interest become even more obvious after some time behind the wheel of the new truck. There are so many things that Freightliner (or should that be Daimler) have got right. The integration of the various systems is nearly as seamless as it is in the truck’s sister, the Actros.
The distinction between how modern truck systems work, and the actual design of the truck, is very different in a North American truck. In terms of climbing into the cabin and getting a look and feel of what’s going on, the Cascadia is similar to any other US truck of the last twenty years.
The modern sophisticated, state-of-the-art stuff is all under the skin. The only giveaway is a modern steering wheel with a wide array of buttons and a modest LCD screen in front of the driver. Where the European truck designers seem to prefer to flaunt the modernity of their trucks, for the Americans it seems that modernity is screened off behind a very traditional interior design.