Truck jack-knifing prevention hinges on kingpin slide 05 September 2012

Jack-knifing of articulated truck combinations could soon be a thing of the past, with the development of a new device by researchers in Greece.

Writing in the International Journal of Vehicle Systems Modelling and Testing, the Greek academics describe the simulation and testing of a sliding kingpin that allows the fifth wheel to slide parallel to the tractor unit's rear axle.

Nick Koussoulas and Stamatis Manesis in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Patras, in Rio Patras, Greece, note that engineers have designed systems to reduce jack-knifing before.

They point to independent or speed-dependent angle limiters, independent trailer brakes that operate before the tractor brakes and load-sensing brake pressure regulators.

Unfortunately, they say, success has been limited and no system is commonly used.

Koussoulas and Manesis hope to change that situation and prevent articulated vehicle jack-knifing, using their sliding kingpin system, which is currently going through the patent process.

They explain that the sliding kingpin is servo-driven, allowing the fifth wheel to slide left or right. This, they, says, compensates for excessive movements of the semi-trailer relative to the tractor, especially during hard braking.

As with ABS, the sliding kingpin system only comes into play in an emergency situation and does not otherwise interfere with the handling of the vehicle.

"The sliding mechanism and the semi-trailer act as a planar, but horizontal inverted, pendulum, and these movements of the kingpin permit the stabilisation of the semi-trailer," explains Koussoulas.

Modelling suggests that the system is capable of keeping the articulated vehicle in line and constraining jack-knifing to very low limits for a wide range of vehicle loading and road conditions, the team concludes.

Author
Brian Tinham

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