Fontaine Fifth Wheel is developing a new patent-pending camera system that will make it easier for truck drivers to properly couple and uncouple trailers. The Dual Assist Camera System features two video cameras that work together to give the driver a clear picture of both the fifth wheel and approaching trailer.
“Many truck elements, from transmissions to communications devices, have evolved in recent years to be more user-friendly, but drivers still have to rely on their mirrors to line up their trailers,” says Aaron Puckett, director of national fleet sales for Fontaine Fifth Wheel. “Mirrors do not provide an optimal vantage point for viewing the coupling process. With our Dual Assist Camera System, you can see up-close what is really happening. We previewed the camera system at the 2014 TMC Transportation Technology Exhibition, received a lot of positive feedback, and are making a few improvements before launching it in the fall.”
Fontaine’s Dual Assist Camera System’s two cameras are mounted back-to-back behind the truck’s fifth wheel and wired to a display in the cab. They automatically turn on when the truck is shifted into reverse. As the tractor begins to back up to couple with a trailer, the in-cab monitor displays video from the rear-facing camera. Crosshairs are superimposed over the screen to help the driver properly center the vehicle.
The two cameras are situated low on the truck’s frame to prevent damage from the trailer’s kingpin. As the camera setup passes under the kingpin, the video feed in the cab automatically switches to the camera facing the fifth wheel. This allows the driver to watch the kingpin enter the throat of the fifth wheel and assists in the coupling process.
To keep dirt and debris from blurring the video picture, automatic shutters close over the camera lenses when the system is not in use. The cameras are heated, so they can be used in sub-freezing temperatures, and feature lights for nighttime operation.
“With the Dual Assist Camera System, drivers will no longer have to worry about lining up a trailer in the dark or during the winter,” says Puckett. “The cameras have been designed and tested to provide a clear view in any conditions. Of course, the Dual Assist Camera System is no substitute for following all recommended practices, including a visual inspection, to ensure a proper coupling, but it provides additional support to drivers in the coupling process.”
The Dual Assist Camera System initial launch is planned for the fall of 2014. Fontaine Fifth Wheel plans to offer the option to the OEM truck manufacturing companies as a first fit option and as an aftermarket accessory through their aftermarket channels.