Volvo Trucks introduces dynamic steering and dual-clutch transmission technology to the Australian market
Improvement to the dynamics of steering heavy vehicles is something that all heavy vehicle drivers will welcome, with Volvo Group Australia taking a progressive step forwards that is currently unique for our market by adding its Dynamic Steering system to its portfolio of driver support systems.
“What makes the Volvo Dynamic Steering system different from some of its competitors is the option to adjust steering-wheel resistance individually. This is a very practical feature, not least for trucks that often have different drivers,” said Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director at Volvo Trucks.
“Each driver has a different perception of how light or heavy the steering system should be. Now, every driver can adjust the steering-wheel resistance exactly as he or she wants, with better directional stability, easier manoeuvring and higher comfort that reduces the risk of road accidents and strain-related injuries,” he added.
Volvo Dynamic Steering has been developed to automatically compensate for unevenness in the road surface and to eliminate vibration and kicks in the steering wheel.
When driving at low speed, steering-wheel resistance is reduced by about 75 percent – a major benefit when reversing and in close-quarter manoeuvring. The steering wheel automatically self-centres as soon as the driver’s grip on the wheel lightens. At higher speeds, the truck confidently maintains its direction even on poor surfaces and in strong side-winds. This technology is based on the truck’s hydraulic power steering being assisted by an electronically regulated electric motor that continuously adjusts steering and provides added turning force when needed.
“By integrating Volvo Dynamic Steering with other comfort and safety-enhancing systems, Volvo Trucks has developed two accident prevention driver support systems: Volvo Dynamic Steering with Stability Assist and Volvo Dynamic Steering with Lane Keeping Assist.
“Imagine you’re driving on a wet, slippery road and you suddenly notice that the rear of the truck is starting to lose its grip on the asphalt. Before this develops into a skid, you steer gently in the opposite direction until the danger is over. That’s exactly the way Volvo Dynamic Steering with Stability Assist works. The big difference is that the system can discover the risk and help stabilise the vehicle before you’ve even noticed that something is about to happen,” explained Mr. Almqvist.
A further safety innovation available with Volvo Dynamic Steering is Lane Keeping Assist, which works together with the truck’s Lane Keeping Support system at speeds above 55 km/h. The system monitors the vehicle’s position using cameras, and when it detects that the truck is edging towards the lane marking it initiates a slight turn of the steering wheel in the appropriate direction. As this occurs it communicates with the driver through a gentle vibration in the steering wheel, helping to steer the vehicle back into the lane.
Volvo Dynamic Steering with Stability Assist works together with the truck’s Electronic Stability Control system. Sensors in the frame continuously monitor the truck’s rotational speed (yaw), and, when the slightest skidding tendency is detected, the system is activated and provides light steering-wheel assistance to help the driver steer in the opposite direction, stabilising the vehicle.
Changes have also been introduced in the drivetrain, with Volvo Trucks now introducing the I-Shift Dual Clutch into the Australian and New Zealand markets. This is the first transmission on the market with a dual-clutch system for heavy vehicles.
Thanks to power-shift gear changes without any interruption in power delivery, torque is maintained and the truck does not lose any speed during gear changes. For the driver, the result is more comfortable and efficient progress on the road.
The I-Shift Dual Clutch transmission consists of two input shafts and a dual-clutch, which means that two gears can be selected at the same time. It is the clutch that determines which of the gears is currently active. I-Shift Dual Clutch is based on I-Shift, but the front half of the gearbox has been redesigned with entirely new components.
I-Shift Dual Clutch especially suits the transport of moving or liquid cargoes, such as animal transports and tanker operations, since the seamless gear changes prompt less movement in the cargo itself. With I-Shift Dual Clutch power-shifting there is less risk of losing traction on slippery or uneven roads, such as those encountered in the timber industry. The reduction of stress on the drivetrain ultimately reduces wear on powertrain, tyres and the rest of the truck, while also saving on fuel as the engine disengages when going downhill.
I-Shift Dual Clutch is available for order on the Volvo FH with Euro 5 D13 engines and with 500 and 540 horsepower.
The I-Shift Dual Clutch explained in detail
Although becoming more commonplace with the passenger car segment, Volvo’s I-Shift Dual Cutch transmission is the first of this type of transmission to be offered in the heavy truck sector.
The I-Shift Dual Clutch gearbox is based on the standard I-Shift transmission. Despite its many new components, the new dual-clutch version is just 12 cm longer than a regular I-Shift unit.
The I-Shift Dual Clutch is best described as two gearboxes linked together. When one gearbox is active, the next gear is preselected in the other gearbox. During gear changing, the first gearbox is disconnected at the same instant as the second gearbox is connected, so gear changes take place without any interruption in power delivery.
The I-Shift Dual Clutch changes gear without any disruption to power delivery, with the exception of the range-change, which takes place when shifting from sixth to seventh gear. When driving in conditions where it is more optimal for the transmission to skip a few gears, the transmission changes gear just like a regular I-Shift unit.
Smooth, gentle gear changes cut wear on the driveline and the rest of the vehicle, and fuel consumption with the I-Shift Dual Clutch is quoted by the manufacturer as being the same as with the standard I-Shift. It is available on Volvo FH models as an alternative to the I-Shift and manual transmission options.