Freightliner LLC Showcases Advanced Heavy-Duty Truck Technologies at 2003 Challenge Bibendum™

  • Participating Vehicles Include Freightliner’s Safety-Environment-Technology Vehicle.

  • SET Vehicle Incorporates Freightliner’s Latest Generation Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit for Heavy-Duty Trucks and Other Advanced Systems.
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SONOMA, CALIFORNIA…Freightliner LLC this week demonstrated a host of advanced heavy-duty truck technologies at the 2003 Challenge Bibendum™. The company showcased its Safety-Environment-Technology (SET) Demonstration Vehicle. 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, a DaimlerChrysler company, is the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in North America and a leading manufacturer of medium-duty vehicles.

Challenge Bibendum was conceived by the Michelin Group as an objective way to bring together and test the best available technologies for environmentally positive vehicles. Challenge Bibendum features vehicles from major vehicle manufacturers on three continents and brings together all facets of the automotive world: vehicle manufacturers, designers, energy suppliers, technical leaders, industrial partners, policy-makers, government and non-government organizations. The 2003 Challenge Bibendum is being held in Sonoma and San Francisco, Calif., Sept. 23-25.

“In the 2003 Challenge Bibendum Freightliner LLC is once again demonstrating some of the latest technologies for enhancing heavy-duty truck safety and reducing emissions,” said Scott Smith, Executive Engineer for Freightliner LLC and Project Manager for the SET Vehicle. “This year, we are showcasing our Safety-Environment-Technology vehicle. The SET vehicle was developed 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.”

Among the technologies incorporated into the SET vehicle are a Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit, Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance, Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 Collision Warning System and a variety of active and passive safety features.

Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit

The SET vehicle incorporates 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

Also demonstrated on the SET vehicle is the Roll Advisor & Control System. 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

The SET vehicle also includes Lane Guidance, 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

Another advanced technology shown on the SET vehicle is the 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.

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:

“The truck’s active safety technologies are designed to help avoid accidents from happening in the first place,” Smith said. “The truck also shows the latest features available to protect truck occupants in cases where an accident is inevitable.”

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.

Two Advanced Technology Vehicles Participate in Challenge Bibendum

In addition to the SET vehicle, Freightliner LLC demonstrated another advanced technology vehicle at Challenge Bibendum. The second vehicle, a Century Class S/T Day Cab model heavy-duty truck, incorporates Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance, the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 Collision Warning System, Michelin X-One tires and other technologies. Both trucks are taking part in activities surrounding the 2003 Challenge Bibendum.

Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Freightliner produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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