Bendix's ABS-6 Advanced with ESP (electronic stability program) is not just for tractor-trailers anymore. Case in point, the manufacturer invited the press to go behind the wheel to witness the system in action in a variety of applications: a tractor pulling a double trailer, cement mixers, a bus, and two bobtail tractors at the Keweenaw Research Center winter test sites in balmy Houghton, MI.

Drivers were instructed to put the test vehicles into a spinout on three test courses, which offered a variety of road conditions, including dry pavement, packed snow and ice, and pure ice.

In every application, the system demonstrated its ability to effectively steer the truck in the direction the driver wants as the vehicle regains stability by automatically cutting the throttle when appropriate and selectively applying key brakes.

The result: a system that reduces the likelihood of rollovers and jackknifes in any driving condition.

“When the driver makes some quick corrections, that's when the system will really help,” said Kevin Romanchok, Bendix product line director-electronics. “It allows the driver to steer and avoid the plowing effect.”

The system raises a driver's margin of error in those split-second maneuvers and that could make the difference between an incident and a close call.

The challenge for many fleets is quantifying return on investment as there isn't any reliable data that measures the number of accidents avoided as a direct result of the Bendix system.

To address this, Bendix offers a calculating tool that determines a purchase price range for the system that would meet a customer's ROI goals based on the fleet's accident rate and costs, and the stability systems' projected effectiveness.

The premium ABS-6 Advanced with ESP will be offered as standard equipment on new Volvo Trucks, while Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt and International offer the base ABS-6 system standard and ABS-6 Advanced with ESP as an option.

Looking to the future, Bendix said it is working with telematics companies to develop an integrated solution that addresses other fleet needs such as real-time information, incident response, and accident reconstruction.

The ABS-6 system can store key information such as technical issues, event memory and the magnitude at which the system countered instability.

Bendix also noted that the system can facilitate more advanced accident avoidance systems. Since ABS-6 Advanced with ESP offers yaw and roll control, the next step would be partly automating longitudinal control.

Combined with existing radar and sensor technologies, such a capability would help vehicles avoid or reduce the severity of a rear-end collision by enabling automated braking, according to Bendix. At the highest levels of the technology, Bendix envisions a system that partly automates obstacle avoidance via complex maneuvers.