Experimental Evaluation of Roll Stability Control System Effectiveness for A-double Commercial Trucks

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Virginia Tech

Some of the results of an extensive track testing program at the Center for Vehicle Systems and Safety (CVeSS) at Virginia Tech for evaluating the roll stability of commercial trucks with 33-ft A-double trailers are evaluated. The study includes straight-rail trailers with heavy and light loading conditions. Commercial trucks are more susceptible to rollovers than passenger cars because of their higher center of gravity relative to their track width. Multi-trailer articulated heavy vehicles, such as A-doubles, are particularly prone to rollovers because of their articulation and rearward amplification.

Electronic stability control (ESC) has been mandated by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSTA) for Class 8 trucks and busses since 2017. When detecting oversteer or understeer, ESC automatically activates the brakes at the correct side of the steer and/or drive axle(s) to regain steering stability. ESC, however, often cannot sense the likelihood of trailer rollover in multi-trailer articulated heavy vehicles because of the articulation between the trailers and tractors. As a result of this, trailers are often equipped with roll stability control (RSC) systems to mitigate speed-induced rollovers. Sensing the trailer lateral acceleration, RSC activates the trailer brakes to reduce speed and lower the likelihood of rollover. However, a limited number of past studies have shown that the trailer roll angle may provide an earlier indication of a pending rollover than the lateral acceleration. This study intends to provide further analysis in this regard in an effort to improve the effectiveness of RSC systems for trailers.

An extensive amount of data from track testing with a 33-ft A-double under heavy and light loading is evaluated. Particular attention is given to lateral accelerations and trailer roll angles prior to rollover and relative to RSC activation time. The study's results indicate that the trailer roll angle provides a slightly earlier indication of rollover than lateral acceleration during dynamic driving conditions, potentially resulting in a timelier activation of RSC. Of course, detecting the roll angle is often more challenging than lateral acceleration, which can be detected with an accelerometer. Additionally, the roll angle measurement may be subjected to errors and possibly unwanted RSC engagement. The study's results further indicate that the trailer-based RSC systems effectively mitigate rollovers in both quasi-steady-state and dynamic driving conditions.

Articulated Heavy Vehicles, Roll Stability Control, Trailer roll angle, Lateral acceleration, Rollover