MATS 2002: Kenworth T800 High-Tech Truck showcases latest in security, safety and productivity

| 3/22/2002

Security, safety and productivity are the focus of Kenworth Truck Co.'s latest high-tech concept vehicle unveiled Thursday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

"In today's world, it's even more imperative for truck manufacturers to push the envelope by providing truck fleets with effective security and safety technology." said Ed Caudill, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president.

"This new Kenworth T800 High-Tech Truck is really a technological marvel," Caudill said. "It features technologies that could be part of a secret agent's repertoire - biometrics authentication, GPS-based telematics tracking systems, Surround Electronic Vision System, Kenworth Night Vision and high-intensity discharge headlamps. Kenworth is truly on technology's cutting edge with this latest concept vehicle."

Kenworth teamed with Heil Trailer International to produce a T800 High-Tech Truck specifically designed for bulk haulers, which typically transport cargo such as fuel and hazardous materials. Tractor and trailer systems are integrated so they can electronically "communicate" with each other.

The Kenworth truck's key security technology is a biometric authentication system, which checks a driver's authorization to operate a specific truck within a fleet. "When the driver's fingerprint is verified via a sensor, the ignition system is enabled and the vehicle can be operated at normal traffic speeds," said Jim Bechtold, Kenworth chief engineer. "If the fingerprint doesn't match, the vehicle can still be started. But it's at a severely restricted horsepower, thus limiting operation to well below normal speeds. The fleet dispatcher also receives an alert message via wireless communication that an unauthorized user is involved."

Kenworth's GPS-based telematics tracking system allows fleet dispatchers to track the movement of a truck throughout North America. The dispatcher receives information on the driver's identity, adherence to a predetermined and authorized route, vehicle weight and other data.

"If a truck is stolen or hijacked, the system allows the truck to be tracked and the driver and cargo found quickly by the authorities," Bechtold said. "Even if the driver is forced to give a fingerprint, the dispatcher can still disable the truck remotely by using wireless technology."

The Kenworth Surround Electronic Vision System provides nearly 360-degrees of coverage around the tractor and trailer to enhance safety while driving and security while parked. From the comfort of the T800's new extended daycab option, the driver can view a flat-panel display screen in the cab and use five cameras.

"There's three cameras on the trailer, including one rear view and two side-view," Bechtold said. "A curbside-view camera for enhanced right-side viewing is outside on the cab's passenger side. The forward-looking Kenworth Night Vision, the fifth camera, can see 1,500 feet ahead or about five times normal headlights. This offers the driver additional time to react to potential situations, providing increased safety during darkness, dusk and dawn."

To help make the trip more productive, the Kenworth Vehicle Information Center (VIC) provides the drivers with information on fuel economy, loads, service and maintenance.

"With VIC, the driver can also check the truck's current status through electronic tire pressure, electronic brake monitoring and Air-Weigh's on-board electronic scale system," Bechtold said. "All these systems are fully integrated between the Kenworth T800 and the Heil advanced concept trailer. VIC also offers two-way email messaging over a wireless connection."

The high-intensity discharge headlamps offer increased illumination on the road ahead for enhanced safety and decreased driver fatigue. The driver's view during adverse weather conditions has been improved through use of Guardian hydrophobic window glass. The high-tech glass provides a permanent, water-shedding coating bonded to all the truck cab's glass surfaces.

"Bulk haulers are concerned about weight, so we've incorporated many lightweight features to help them maximize their payload," Bechtold said. "As a result, the truck only weighs 13,900 pounds."

Kenworth used Bridgestone's GREATEC wide-based single drive tires and Alcoa aluminum wheels on both the tractor and trailer, reducing overall weight by nearly 600 pounds. Other lightweight components include the new Kenworth AG380 introduced Thursday, ZF Meritor FreedomLine automated transmission and composite leaf springs.

The high-performance brake system features Dana Spicer 16.5 x 5 front drum brakes. To assist the driver with pre-trip inspections, the MGM e-Stroke brake monitoring system is integrated into the Kenworth Vehicle Information Center for real-time diagnostics.

The Kenworth High-Tech Truck is on display (Booth 3410) before thousands of attendees at this week's annual Mid-America Trucking Show.