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Computer Program Adjusts Brake Forces

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University say a computer program they developed and tested in simulation could automatically adjust brake forces on the right and left sides of a heavy-truck cab to prevent rollover accidents during cornering.

“The computer-based controller we've developed will adjust the brake forces on the right and left sides of the cab independently to stabilize the vehicle by reducing the spin which causes rollover,” said Dr Moustafa El-Gindy, director of the Vehicle Simulation Research Center at Penn State's Transportation Institute (PTI). “We expect to have a prototype to test on a vehicle in about a year.”

El-Gindy detailed the approach in a paper, Nonlinear Active Rollover Prevention Control Strategies for a Five-Axle Tractor/Semitrailer. A Scott Lewis, research associate at Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory, is first author of the paper.

Lewis said a computer simulation of a 75,000-lb tractor was used to demonstrate effectiveness of the proposed active control system. However, he said the approach can apply to any configuration of truck or tractor-trailer. In El-Gindy's application, the controller would engage differential braking automatically only if lateral acceleration of a vehicle or its spin at its center of gravity exceeded a danger threshold.

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