WASHINGTON, D.C….Freightliner LLC is bringing the latest in advanced heavy-duty truck technology to the U.S. capital this week. Freightliner, a DaimlerChrysler company and the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in North America, is showcasing its Safety-Environment-Technology (SET) Demonstration Vehicle at government events here June 24-26. The SET Vehicle is an exhibition of numerous advanced systems designed to enhance the safety, reduce the environmental impact and increase the productivity of heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The systems are installed on a Freightliner Class 8 Century Class S/T tractor, one of the most popular heavy-duty trucks on the road today.
“Freightliner LLC is committed to exploring and developing technologies that contribute to heavy-duty truck safety and continue the reduction of emissions,” said Michael von Mayenburg, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Technology for Freightliner LLC. “The intent of the SET vehicle is to demonstrate, raise awareness and evaluate the potential of advanced technologies for improving road and highway safety, further reducing emissions and increasing the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles.”
According to von Mayenburg, the SET vehicle incorporates a host of advanced technologies, including:
Freightliner’s Latest Generation Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) for Heavy-Duty Trucks
Freightliner’s Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit uses fuel cell technology to power the comfort and convenience accessories on a parked heavy-duty truck. This cuts the need to idle the engine, thus reducing fuel consumption, emissions and noise.
The concept fuel cell APU system was developed by Freightliner and Ballard Power Systems. It includes one Ballard fuel cell stack and a fuel processing system. The fuel processing system extracts hydrogen from methanol via chemical reaction. The exhaust emissions are limited to water vapor and CO2.
The process generates 42 volts direct current and up to 5 kilowatts that are used to recharge the vehicle’s batteries, the fuel cell system batteries and to provide a power source for cab loads.
The fuel cell APU installed on the SET truck is Freightliner’s latest generation and generates three times the capacity of Freightliner’s previous fuel cell APU, unveiled in 2000.
The Department of Energy has estimated potential fuel and maintenance costs related to idling a heavy-duty truck at $1,800 annually. The fuel cell APU diminishes idling time by utilizing advanced fuel cell technology to deliver electrical power.
Freightliner continues to explore the commercial viability of fuel cell APUs. Challenges to overcome include the availability and infrastructure of a suitable fuel for the fuel cell and the production cost of the units.
The current concept was developed for a project of the U.S. Army’s National Automotive Center. The University of Alabama also participated in the project.
Roll Advisor & Control
Integrated with the truck’s anti-lock braking systems, Roll Advisor & Control alerts the driver to a potential rollover and/or automatically slows the truck to reduce the risk of an accident.
According to the Department of Transportation, rollover crashes can account for about one-half of the annual heavy-duty truck driver fatalities.
Roll Advisor & Control is designed to alleviate truck rollover by teaching drivers to recognize risky vehicle maneuvers or to reduce the forces pushing the truck toward rollover.
The system has two integrated components: Roll Stability Advisor and Roll Stability Control. Both utilize sensors integrated into the truck’s anti-lock brake system. By tracking the truck’s lateral acceleration and wheel speed, the system detects the potential for rollover.
Roll Stability Advisor is a training aid designed to advise the driver that he or she has operated the vehicle in near rollover conditions. Warnings are communicated via the Driver Message Center, an easy-to-read display located in the dash, directly in front of the driver.
The Roll Stability Control function takes rollover avoidance to the next level by automatically slowing the vehicle.
When sensor data indicate that a rollover is imminent, Roll Stability Control sends a signal to reduce engine power, apply the engine brake and apply the service brake. This slows the truck and reduces the forces pushing the vehicle toward rollover. When the vehicle becomes stable, power is restored and the engine brake is turned off.
Roll Advisor & Control was developed in conjunction with Meritor WABCO.
Lane Guidance is an advanced lane departure warning system. Lane Guidance monitors the truck’s position relative to lane markings, then sounds an audible warning when the truck is about to stray outside its lane. The advanced system is designed to avoid accidents by warning distracted or inattentive drivers of unintended lane changes.
The Lane Guidance system consists of a digital camera, mounted on the windshield inside the cab; a Central Processing Unit (CPU), located in the overhead console; two speakers located in the left- and right-side doors and associated wiring.
The camera continually gathers visual data, digitizes them and feeds them into the CPU. Using image recognition software and a lane recognition algorithm, the CPU determines if a vehicle is drifting too close to the lane markings. When this occurs -- and if the driver has not activated the turn signal -- the CPU sends a signal to emit a distinctive “rumble strip” sound.
When the truck is straying to the left, the warning sound comes from the left speaker. When the truck is straying to the right, it comes from the right speaker. The driver is expected to steer away from the side of the sound.
Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 Collision Warning System
A radar-based collision warning system, the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 alerts drivers to potential hazards like stopped or slow-moving vehicles. The EVT-300 features front and side radar sensors. When a potentially hazardous object is detected in close proximity to the truck, the driver receives visual and audible warnings.
The SET truck also incorporates the EVT-300’s SmartCruise feature, which helps to automatically maintain a pre-set speed or following distance to vehicles ahead.
Variety of Active and Passive Safety Features
In addition to the Fuel Cell APU, Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance and Eaton Vorad EVT-300, the SET vehicle incorporates active and passive safety features standard or available on the Freightliner Trucks Century Class S/T:
Superb visibility -- expansive windshields and sloped hoods provide a panoramic view of surrounding traffic and obstacles.
Daytime running lights -- for better conspicuity in daylight conditions.
Anti-spray devices -- protects traffic from spray.
Smart-Shift – A steering column-mounted shifting device that allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Driver’s side airbag.
Superior structural integrity -- The Century Class S/T meets or exceeds the stringent, European ECE R-29 crash test requirements.
“In keeping with DaimlerChrysler’s vision of accident-free driving, Freightliner’s SET vehicle demonstrates active safety technologies designed to prevent accidents from happening in the first place,” von Mayenburg said. “The truck also shows the latest features available to protect truck occupants in cases where an accident is inevitable.”
von Mayenburg pointed out that many of the systems on the SET vehicle are already available for production models. These include Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance and the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 system.
The Freightliner SET Demonstration Vehicle will participate in the Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) event this week. Through the IVI program, DOT aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of vehicle-based driver assistance systems that warn the driver of dangerous situations, recommend actions and even assume partial control of the vehicle to avoid collisions. Freightliner recently completed an evaluation of the Roll Advisor & Control system as part of the IVI program.
“Freightliner continues to support the goals of the DOT’s Intelligent Vehicle Initiative and plans to further explore the potential of advanced safety and environmental technology through projects like the SET Demonstration Vehicle,” von Mayenburg said.
He added, “The key to safety in heavy-duty truck operations remains trained, skilled truck drivers. Our aim is to develop systems that help safe truck drivers operate more safely.”