Daimler gives truck drivers a virtual look into the future
Development engineers at Daimler Trucks are hitting the road with a mobile vehicle simulator that will offer truck drivers a sneak peak at upcoming technologies. The team will drive the specially kitted out Mercedes V-Class to motorway rest stops along major traffic routes around Stuttgart, Germany, gauging driver opinions about systems Daimler is currently working on.
The idea behind the road trip is to give engineers the opportunity to get feedback directly from as many real-world truck drivers as possible, in a short amount of time. The prototyping lab on wheels features a system simulator that's been squeezed into the back of a V-Class, and will demonstrate prototype operating menus and applications based on existing systems in the Mercedes-Benz Actros announced last year.
The Actros went into series production at the end of May, and its cockpit features two interactive screens that serve as a multimedia hub, with the driver supported by smartphone and app integration. A multifunction steering wheel sports touch pads that allow the driver to navigate both displays without taking any hands off the wheel.
Drivers chosen at random will don VR headsets showing 3D models of a truck cockpit, and be faced with various driving situations. Added realism comes in the shape of a real multifunction steering wheel like the one in the Actros. The test subjects are being asked for their input on the user-friendliness of the menu navigation screens and the app portfolio.
Though two Daimler Trucks experts will monitor each testing session, the simulator has been kitted out with sensors to record the movements of the drivers. Each test lasts about 20 minutes, and can be undertaken without having to hand over personal or professional information.
Daimler says that feedback from the truck drivers will inform future systems development.
"A big advantage of our mobile test lab is that it brings us to the drivers, not the other way round," said Dr. Christian Ballarin, Head of Advanced Engineering Daimler Trucks for Active Safety, Autonomous Driving and Connectivity. " By having drivers test in their professional environment, their feedback is even more authentic. This represents a huge benefit for our development work."