Freightliner’s newest new Cascadia includes Level 2 autonomated technology, improved aerodynamics, and more.
Freightliner has sold 65,000 new Cascadias and booked 50,000 additional orders since first introducing its signature truck in 2017. Now that new Cascadia is about to become even newer thanks to a broad series of upgrades.
Picture a truck that, in selected cases, will even act on its own.
Chief among the upgrades are Level 2 automation capabilities – something that Freightliner stresses is an industry first. These combine automatic braking when spotting pedestrians and cyclists in a truck’s path, lane-keeping assistance that applies automatic steering corrections, and adaptive cruise control that will even re-apply the accelerator if the cruise control needs to stop the truck for less than two seconds.
“The system is always alert and it never needs a coffee break,” says Wilfriend Achenbach, senior vice-president – engineering for Daimler Trucks North America. “The truck turns Inspiration into reality.”
The latter reference is a clear nod to the company’s autonomous Inspiration demonstration vehicle that was first showcased in 2015. The family of Detroit Assurance active safety systems has also been available since 2015 and is standard on every Detroit-powered new Cascadia.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 94% of crashes can be linked to human error, and Daimler believes such technologies will help reduce the risk. Automatic braking assist alone could reduce rear-end collisions 71%, serious driver injuries 78%, and fatalities by 82%, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board predicts.
The new Cascadia’s latest capabilities are based on features including a Detroit Assurance 5.0 suite of camera and radar systems.
Active lane assist will make gentle steering adjustments to keep the truck centered in its lane.
Available adaptive cruise control will automatically accelerate and decelerate to maintain following distances. Active lane assist, meanwhile, combines lane keep assist and lane departure protection. When adaptive cruise control is enabled, the system applies small steering corrections to keep the truck centered in its lane. And if the new Cascadia drifts out of a lane without engaging the turn signal, the truck will automatically countersteer and sound a rumble-strip-style warning.
Active Brake Assist 5.0 fuses the Detroit Assurance 5.0 camera and radar system to detect moving pedestrians and cyclists in front of the truck, and will fully deploy engine retarders and foundation brakes if needed. That feature was first introduced in Europe on the recently updated Mercedes-Benz Actros.
The system offers similar support when identifying other moving and stationary vehicles and objects.
“Fleets with trucks equipped with forward collision mitigation systems can experience a 60% to 80% reduction in rear-end crashes, resulting in potentially fewer accidents and reduced operational costs,” said Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing for Freightliner and Detroit. Through Detroit Connect Analytics, fleet managers can monitor how the safety features are being deployed, including times when drivers take their hands off the wheel for longer than 60 seconds.
An optional driver-facing camera can also help fleets view driver actions before, during and after an automatic braking event.
But these are merely the changes at the front of the truck. Side Guard Assist will now detect objects including pedestrians and cyclists down the passenger side of the new Cascadia and 53-foot trailer behind it. Once such an object is spotted, an alarm sounds and a triangular light in the A-pillar begins to flash.
Improvements including upgraded aerodynamics mean the latest new Cascadia can be 35% more fuel-efficient than the original Cascadia, released in 2007.
Enhancements are not limited to safety features alone. The new Cascadia receives a series of aerodynamic and powertrain improvements that make it 35% more fuel-efficient than the first generation of Cascadia trucks rolled out in 2007.
Fuel-efficiency upgrades are available in three packages.
Standard offerings include tow hook covers that are tethered in place from the rear, and a new A pillar deflector that offers the added benefit of helping to keep side windows clear. Also standard are a new AC compressor and the Intelligent Powertrain Management (IPM6) cruise control.
The latter system will hold engine torque over the small steady inclines that drivers might traditionally perceive as flat roads, introducing shifts, acceleration or engine braking for changes in terrain that are about 1.5 km or more ahead of the truck. The latest version of this smart cruise control covers 35% more roads than the IPM4.
An optional Aero package includes a side skirt that sits about an inch lower than current designs and features a new C-style clamp and fastener to hold it in place. The existing three-piece design is reduced to two pieces in the name of eliminating a joint. And side extender seals close a ¾-inch gap to further smooth the flow of air from the tractor to the trailer.
The Aero X option takes it all to a higher level with a half dozen more enhancements. It has a modular three-piece front bumper, optimized roof fairing deflector, 24-inch side extender, wheel well covers, and an optimized drive wheel fairing.
A new aerodynamic height control is an industry first for a production truck, and will lower the new Cascadia by a full inch at highway speeds and increase to normal ride heights at 45 mph. Drivers have the option of disabling the system if driving through something like snow that requires the added ground clearance. And the new wheel fairings still leave room in the upper area of the wheel well so a lowered suspension can continue to deflect.
The low ground clearance bumper in the AeroX package has replaced today’s rivets with a snap joint to ensure everything can be snapped back in place, while drive wheel fairings from FlowBelow also include a new mounting system to allow for easier removal during service.
“It’s all about moving air more efficiently around the vehicle,” said Clint LaPreze, on-highway marketing manager.
Rolling underneath it all will be Michelin X Line D+ Energy tires. That low rolling resistance tire will be a Freightliner exclusive for the first 18 months, improving rolling resistance by a reported 14% and improving fuel economy 1%, LaPreze said.
A new 12.3-inch driver information display and 10-inch display for the B-pillar add to the available information.
Inside the new Cascadia’s cab, an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with its six pre-loaded gauges can be mounted in front of the driver, replacing the truck’s traditional five-inch display that is flanked on each side by traditional gauges. The new design will display details such as trip information and vehicle diagnostic warnings, as well as images of road signs picked up by the truck’s forward-facing camera.
A 10-inch display that can be mounted in the B panel can also be controlled through optical finger navigation pads on the steering wheel. A line of buttons under the display itself includes a series of shortcuts to specific features.
And new interfaces in the dash also offer quick connections for smartphones, supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto entertainment systems.
The new Cascadia’s condition is monitored through the standard Detroit Connect suite of vehicle services including remote updates, analytics, and wireless connections to things like authorized ELD devices in the cab. Remote updates now include firmware as well.
“We have customers with seven SIM card plans on trucks,” explains Jason Krajewski, director of connectivity for Detroit Connect, referring to the need to interface with different devices. “We can’t do everything on our own and we don’t want to.” The system also makes it possible to remove third-party hardware including electronic control units and CAN listeners.
Up to 20 parameters will be added to the truck’s virtual technician, which last year introduced remote updates for factors including maximum road speed, an idle shutdown timer, and an idle shutdown based on ambient temperatures.
Said Kary Schaeffer, Daimler Trucks North America’s general manager – product marketing and strategy: “We are bringing a truckload of improvements to our customers.”
Series production of the updated new Cascadia begins in July.