From the driver’s point of view, it’s simply a matter of making sure they know what all the buttons on the dashboard do, when test driving a truck like the Actros. Then it’s a matter of working out how to set it up correctly before setting off down the road. It is possible to drive this model in a semi-autonomous way. Much of the time on long runs all the driver has to do is steer the truck and keep an eye out. The automated systems do the rest.
The truck on test is probably the ideal B-double prime mover in this model range. It is an Actros 2663 with the StreamSpace cabin, which includes a flat floor. In fact, this particular cabin is laid out in the SoloStar configuration, which Mercedes-Benz have introduced as an option, but not many truck buyers have shown a lot of interest.
Climbing up into the cab is literally that, climbing up four steps and then up again onto the flat cabin floor. It is quite a way up there, but all of the handles are well designed and the steps themselves are easy to negotiate.
While settling into the driver’s seat the full array of electronics available in this truck becomes obvious with two large screens, one directly in front of the driver and one to the left, on firing up the truck they light up in all their glory.
This is clearly the way that the truck interior design is going to be in the future, even the new Kenworth has an LCD screen on the dashboard with an option to show analog instruments. In this brave new world, most drivers will still choose conservatively and configure the screen directly in front of them with the usual tachometer and speedometer left and right, plus fuel gauge, with indicators of gear selected, trip and odometer in the middle.
The screen also shows which automated systems the driver has activated and how they have been set. This will show whether the active cruise control is activated and what distance the driver has set as the closest it can get to the vehicle in front.
There is a lot to learn about all of these systems which are available in the Actros. A certain amount of training on handover is vital for any driver taking over this truck. Although many of the controls are relatively intuitive, for many drivers, the sheer volume of different systems which can be turned on and off may be confusing. Clear and concise training and instructions will solve any problems.
The screen in front of the driver can be adjusted and controlled via the buttons on the steering wheel. The screen to the drivers left is more about items like entertainment systems and other information for the driver.
After starting the truck, the parking brake release is simply a large switch. The transmission is controlled by a stalk on the right hand side of the steering column. Most of the time the driver will need simply to leave it in the drive position and let the computer technology do most of the work.
When test driving a truck like the Actros, this G330 12 speed PowerShift transmission is well proven and this basic technology is now used throughout the Daimler heavy truck range. At the beginning, the early Actros models struggled with automated manual transmissions, but when the Mercedes-Benz engineers finally got the transmission right, they really did get it right.
Surprisingly, the safety pack, which includes all of the safety systems, is an optional extra. This pack includes Lane Keep Assist, Attention Assist, Active Brake Assist 5, Proximity Control Assist and Automatic Main/Dipped Beam and Cornering Light. In these very safety conscious times including this set of equipment in your options list would seem to be a no brainer, as long as the operator can be certain that their drivers will not simply switch all of the automated systems off as soon as they sit down in the driver’s seat.