The roll stability secret

From the June 2015 issue.

Roll stability systems in commercial vehicles are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. But how do they work?

It’s safe to say that Roll Stability Control (RSC) is now a common optional extension of ABS and EBS technology on powered vehicles, not only in Europe, but also in the US and Japan. In fact, it is often part of a more extensive ‘ESC’ stability control package. RSS, also known as RSP, is the equivalent feature in the trailer world, and is now standard on all TEBS systems currently available.

Regardless of the type of vehicle used, roll stability systems are meant to avoid the worst-case scenario of a vehicle rollover. While the conditions leading to such an event can vary, modern electronic systems are intelligent enough to respond to differing circumstances in the most appropriate way – based on a complex set of data collected within the TEBS unit.

However, the relative benefit of having both prime mover-based RSC and trailer-based RSS in an articulated vehicle combination – specifically a prime mover/semi-trailer set-up – is still controversial. Global Trailer therefore asked Australian braking specialist Greg Byrnes to clarify the issue.

According to Byrnes, the first point to understand is that in a typical prime mover/semi-trailer combination, the trailer will always roll before the prime mover itself. “This is simply a function of the fact that the trailer carries the load and generally has a much higher centre of gravity than the prime mover,” he says. “Of course, when the trailer rolls, it will often pull the prime mover over with it, unless there is a mechanical failure of the fifth wheel coupling between them.” 

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