World-first boosts longer semi-trailers’ safety and manoeuvrability 22 March 2013

A world-first engineering innovation, designed to improve the safety and manoeuvrability of longer semi-trailers on UK roads, is set to be unveiled at the CV Show (9—11 April, NEC) on SDC's stand 5G121.

The Path Following Steering System, which allows trailers to accurately follow the trajectory of the tractor unit – so reducing tail-swing and cut-in – was developed by the Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium (CVDC).

The system incorporates light-weight electro-hydraulic actuators that control the steering of each axle on the semi-trailer. A computer monitors data from sensors on the vehicle and controls the actuators so that the trailer precisely follows the path of the fifth wheel.

Live testing is due by the middle of this year, with CVDC member Wincanton using the new trailer steering system on its fleet of longer semi-trailers.

"We have developed an engineering solution that virtually eliminates the trailer's excursions from the path of the tractor unit at all speeds," comments David Cebon, professor of mechanical engineering at Cambridge University and director of the CVDC.

"This makes these vehicles both safer and, operationally, much more efficient and effective," he continues.

"Quite apart from the substantial safety benefits this system brings, it offers hugely increased manoeuvrability in confined spaces, allowing trailers to be accurately steered in both forward and reverse gears."

Cebon states that other benefits include significantly longer tyre life, as lateral forces on conventional trailers are massively reduced.

"We believe passionately in longer semi-trailers' ability to help ease congestion on the roads, while at the same time reducing the vehicle's impact on the environment," says Dave Rowlands, Wincanton's technical director.

"We are very proud to be members of the CVDC and to be taking part in the trial of this superb new system which will, I believe, eventually revolutionise manoeuvrability not just of longer semi-trailers but in many other applications where high capacity vehicles are needed."

CVDC is a collaboration between engineers from Cambridge University and companies including Wincanton, SDC Trailers, Tridec, Haldex and Goodyear.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium
Tridec BV
Wincanton plc

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