A cruise control system that can “see ahead” is about to go live. Predictive Power Control, now available in the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, reduces fuel consumption by an additional three percent.

Because the system is familiar with the topography of the road ahead, it is able to respond in a way that will deliver the most fuel-efficient performance. This new driver assistance system really comes into its own when negotiating up- or downhill gradients. As the first GPS-based cruise control system, Predictive Powertrain Control not only intervenes to control speed and braking, but can now also regulate the transmission. The system thus extends use of the fuel-saving EcoRoll function, which is fitted as standard on the Actros, and will furthermore insert a carefully judged single or double downshift of gear at an early stage, where appropriate.

A first stage of development saw Daimler Trucks introduce a GPS speed regulator, without gearshift intervention, some three years ago as an option for its Freightliner branded trucks in the USA. When it was launched onto the market in 2009 this system, which was available in overseas markets under the name “Predictive Cruise Control” was the first cruise control system to be so “farsighted”. Combining geodetic data with the ability to pinpoint the vehicle’s position through the Global Positioning System (GPS) makes “predictive” driving in cruise control mode possible.

The new development from Mercedes-Benz builds on this basis, using its knowledge of the road ahead when driving up or downhill. In doing so, Predictive Powertrain Control turns the classic and inherent disadvantage of a non-regulated cruise control system into clearly measurable advantages: fully laden long-distance haulage trucks such as the new Actros 1845 BlueTec 6 can achieve fuel savings of around three percent in long-distance operations over moderately difficult topography compared with “non-regulated” examples fitted with a classic cruise control system.

Predictive Powertrain Control relies on data fusion
Predictive Powertrain Control is representative of a new type of technology that brings together the technology that is already in the vehicle with external data from its surroundings. As a result, and thanks to its profound understanding of both the vehicle and the route, this intelligent cruise control system with transmission intervention delivers a driving performance that could only be matched by an extremely motivated truck driver with an exceptional level of concentration. To put it another way: Predictive Powertrain Control exploits the fuel-saving potential of the new Actros right to the very last drop.

Operating a vehicle with Predictive Powertrain Control is just as easy as you would expect with any Mercedes-Benz truck. In essence, all the driver has to do is to operate the speed regulator. Over and above the parameters that could previously already be set, just one further critical value needs to be defined. Alternatively, the driver can simply rely on the parameters as pre-set at the start of each journey. Over the course of the trip, the most important variables can then be very easily fine-tuned via the menu of the on-board computer.

Source: Daimler AG