New ideas driv­ing truck­ing

Motor Equipment News - - DIESEL INDUSTRY NEWS -

Be­fore long trucks and vans will be con­nected to each other in such a way that they will be able to tell each other about traf­fic prob­lems, or the on­set of vi­o­lent weather con­di­tions.

“In the fu­ture the ve­hi­cles will be con­nected with the whole world of traf­fic. They will in­form one an­other in real time of a pos­si­ble traf­fic queue or a storm. Over 400 sen­sors are al­ready used in modern semi­trail­ers to col­lect data. They cre­ate 100 mil­lion lines of soft­ware – which is more than in a jet,” says Matthias Wiss­mann, pres­i­dent of the Ger­man As­so­ci­a­tion of the Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­try (VDA).

He was speak­ing to around 700 high-rank­ing guests from pol­i­tics and business at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 66th IAA Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles in Han­nover.

Con­nec­tiv­ity would make trans­port even safer and more ef­fi­cient, he said.

“Pla­toon­ing, that is, con­voys of elec­tron­i­cally con­nected trucks on the free­way, can bring about sav­ings of up to 10 per­cent in fuel and CO2 emis­sions.”

Dig­i­tal freight ex­changes could help fur­ther min­imise empty trips. Ex­act cal­cu­la­tion of ex­pected jour­ney times would en­able more ef­fi­cient use of the time slots at ramps and load­ing docks. And not least the driver would ben­e­fit from digi­ti­sa­tion.

“It would put an end to the of­ten tire­some search for a free park­ing space along the free­way, as the fully con­nected truck will re­serve its park­ing spot in ad­vance on­line,” he said.

Wiss­mann un­der­scored the cru­cial eco­nomic sig­nif­i­cance of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, which en­able us to en­joy the many agree­able as­pects of daily life.

“In Ger­many, com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles bring 99 litres of beer to the shops per per­son per year. Whether you’re talk­ing about shoes, books or clothes – the turnover in e-com­merce has in­creased to 17 times what it was in 2000. That would be in­con­ceiv­able with­out vans.”

And com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles are also of­ten “first aiders” in haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions and emer­gen­cies. In Ger­many am­bu­lance and res­cue ser­vices make over 11.7 mil­lion jour­neys per year, and fire trucks ex­tin­guish over 200,000 fires an­nu­ally.

“A life with­out com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles would pretty much put us back in the Mid­dle Ages – no garbage col­lec­tion, no street clean­ing, no clear­ing of roads in win­ter. Clearly, life with­out com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles would not be more com­fort­able or safer.”

He pointed out the high level of safety equip­ment in modern com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. For in­stance ESP (elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gramme), the lane de­par­ture warn­ing and the emer­gency brak­ing as­sis­tant were now fit­ted as stan­dard.

How­ever, he added, that was only an in­ter­me­di­ate stage, say­ing, “We want far more. The long-term goal is ob­vi­ous: ac­ci­dent-free driv­ing due to au­to­ma­tion. Multi-func­tion cam­eras, radar and ul­tra­sound sen­sors will help.”

How­ever, he posted a cou­ple of warn­ings. The first was that leg­is­la­tion would have to be fast-tracked to keep up with de­vel­op­ments. Sec­ondly, con­verted ef­forts were needed to bring down CO2 lev­els for trucks.

“Re­gard­ing drive trains we will ex­pe­ri­ence a broad mix in the fu­ture. Diesels will con­tinue to play a key role in long-dis­tance traf­fic. The lat­est ex­haust after-treat­ment tech­nol­ogy makes them not only ef­fi­cient and eco­nom­i­cal, but also clean. To­day’s Euro VI trucks and buses are stars on our roads with their ex­tremely low lev­els of pol­lu­tants,” Wiss­mann said.

At the same time, he con­tin­ued, al­ter­na­tive pow­er­trains were be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant. Nat­u­ral gas, for ex­am­ple, was al­ready used in buses and also of­fered po­ten­tial CO2 re­duc­tions in trucks. A good tank and sup­ply in­fra­struc­ture was how­ever essen­tial for wide-scale de­ploy­ment.

“Hy­brid and elec­tric drives are also be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in the light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles used for de­liv­er­ies and lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion, be­cause the large towns and cities are still grow­ing, as is e-com­merce. Go­ing hand in hand, con­nec­tiv­ity and elec­tric mo­bil­ity will en­sure that in the fu­ture ur­ban lo­gis­tics will be even faster and emis­sions-free,” Wiss­mann em­pha­sised.

A truck pla­toon­ing trial in Europe.

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