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Germany opens first stretch of ‘electric highway’ for trucks

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A specially designed hybrid truck travels along a 6-mile section of the Autobahn near Frankfurt, Germany, running on electricity from the experimental eHighway system. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Way back in 1982, Eddy Grant encouraged us all to “rock down to Electric Avenue.”

In more recent times, the trucking industry has increasingly set itself on the road to a more electric future, with battery life being one of the main technological hindrances, especially since charging stations are still few and far between.

Germany has moved forward with its own version of Electric Avenue with the development of an eHighway system by which trucks can draw electricity from overhead cables. On May 7, the the German government introduced the system on a roughly 6-mile stretch of the Autobahn near Frankfurt, between the city’s airport and a nearby industrial park.

This is the first test of the system, which has been in development since 2010, on a public highway in Germany. Smaller-scale tests have been done in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2016 and in Carson, California, near the Port of Los Angeles, in 2017.

Currently, one truck is operating on the system, with four more trucks expected to join it by 2020. The eHighway system is also being installed in two other locations, as well, and will be tested through 2022. The German government will decide whether to expand the system.

To get this far, Germany has spent just under $15.7 million on installing the system and invested another $77 million in designing the hybrid trucks that will use it.

The system was designed by Munich-based Siemens AG, is somewhat similar to overhead electric systems used with trains and cable cars. The hybrid trucks were built by Volkswagen AG’s Scania truck division.

The trucks are fitted with conductor rods, called pantographs, on the top of the cabin. Sensors detect when the overhead wires are available, and the pantographs are then extended upward. The truck must be traveling at 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) or less for the connection to be made.

Once connected, the truck draws from the 670-volt direct-current cables, and the truck runs entirely on electricity. Meanwhile, the truck’s batteries are recharged so that once disconnected, the truck can continue to run on electricity before switching over to diesel.

Siemens has estimated that a truck owner could save $22,370 on fuel for every 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles) driven. The big motivator for the German government, however, is its potential environmental impact by reducing CO2 and other emissions.

Slashing carbon emissions from transportation is a key part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Truck transportation, meanwhile, is the world’s fastest growing source of oil demand, according to the International Transport Forum. Road transportation of goods is projected to account for 15% of the increase in global CO2 emissions until 2050.

Germany has set goals to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, and up to 95% by 2050.

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Optronics introduces first custom LED lamps featuring GloLight technology

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The new Optronics lamp’s traditional LED-style lens pattern surrounds the logo graphic in the middle of the lamp. (Courtesy: OPTRONICS INTERNATIONAL)

TULSA, Okla. — Optronics International, a manufacturer and supplier of heavy-duty LED vehicle lighting, said it will be displaying the industry’s first stop, tail, turn lamps with integrated graphics at the North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show in Atlanta October 28-31. The new lamps merge brand identities into the lighting design, juxtaposing a smooth GloLight lens appearance against a more traditional LED pattern, Optronics said.

According to Brett Johnson, president and CEO of Optronics International, GloLight technology allows Optronics to consolidate even complex graphics into the functional operation of the lamps.

The new lamp’s traditional LED-style lens pattern surrounds the logo graphic in the middle of the lamp. The GloLight logo portion of the lamp illuminates when operating in its standard function as a tail lamp, and when the lamp’s turn signal or brake functions are in operation, all portions of the LED lamp brighten.

“This is an industry first and a novel use for our GloLight technology,” Johnson said. “Logos and branding have been widely incorporated into conspicuity tape for decades, so the migration to lighting is a logical one.”

Marketing professionals also recognize that the four-inch round and six-inch oval lighting formats are among the most noticeable features on any vehicle.

“Whether you’re consciously aware of it, if you’re driving behind a commercial vehicle, particularly at night, you’re constantly monitoring its tail lights,” Johnson said.

Optronics employed its 3-D printing capabilities in preparing prototypes for the manufacturers. The company also worked with a number of OEMs during the development of the lamp, including Vanguard National Trailer Corporation and Miller Industries.

The LED lamps offer users a broad level of creative design flexibility for those responsible for a company’s branding, because the GloLight technology can be used in both red and white or a combination of both. Lens striations can also be used to achieve unique and complementary visual effects.

Optronics products are available in the U.S. and Canada through the company’s extensive distribution network of more than 20,000 convenient distribution locations. Users can access individual Optronics distributor websites by simply clicking on their logo icons. For information on international sales and distribution of Optronics products, please contact Dorian Drake at +1 914-697-9800 or visit http://doriandrake.com.

 

 

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NHTSA issues ANPRM on camera monitoring systems as alternative to mirrors

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Last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted an exemption requested by Stoneridge Inc. allowing its MirrorEye CMS to be installed as an alternative to conventional rear-vision mirrors currently required on commercial motor vehicles in the United States. (Courtesy: STONERIDGE INC.)

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that could eventually lead to camera-based rear visibility systems, commonly referred to as camera monitoring systems (CMS) as an alternative to inside and outside rearview mirrors.

The federal motor vehicle safety standard currently requires that vehicles be equipped with rearview mirrors to provide drivers with a view of objects that are to their side or to their side and rear.

In a notice published in the Federal Register Thursday, NHTSA said the ANPRM responds to two rulemaking petitions: one pertaining to light vehicles from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Tesla and one from Daimler Trucks North America relating to heavy vehicles.

The agency said the ANPRM builds on the agency’s prior efforts to obtain supporting technical information, data, and analysis on CMS so that the agency can determine whether these systems can provide the same level of safety as the rearview mirrors currently required under federal regulations.

There is already some development underway in the CMS arena.

Last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted an exemption requested by Stoneridge Inc., allowing its MirrorEye CMS to be installed as an alternative to conventional rear-vision mirrors. The exemption applies solely to Stoneridge’s MirrorEye system, making it the only CMS that allows for complete removal of traditional mirrors in the United States, Stonebridge said in a news release.

In issuing the ANPRM Thursday, NHTSA acknowledged that part of its responsibility in carrying out its safety mission is not only to develop and set new safety standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, but also to modify existing standards, as appropriate, to respond to changing circumstances such as the introduction of new technologies.

“Examples of previous technological transitions that triggered the need to adapt and/or replace requirements in federal safety regulations include the replacing of analog dashboards by digital ones, the replacing of mechanical control systems by electronic ones, and the first production of electric vehicles in appreciable numbers,” the Federal Register notice said.

The agency said it was publishing the ANPRM to gather information and receive feedback to enable the agency to decide whether (and if so, how) to propose amending federal regulations on rear visibility to permit camera-based systems as an alternative compliance option in lieu of outside rearview mirrors or in lieu of all rearview mirrors, both inside and outside ones. Specifically, NHTSA said, it hoped the ANPRM, through the public comment process, will provide the agency with additional safety-related research and data to support a potential future rulemaking on this subject.

NHTSA said it was asking for information based on 21 questions among the following seven categories:

  • Existing industry standards
  • System field of view and related test procedures
  • Image quality and related test procedures
  • Rearview image display type related human factors
  • Side rearview image display locations, driver acclimation and related test procedures
  • Camera durability, reliability and related test procedures
  • System availability when vehicle ignition is off

The ANPRM can be found at https://federalregister.gov/d/2019-22036, and on govinfo.gov

The deadline for public comments is December 9.

To comment online, go to www.regulations.gov, follow the instruction on the site using docket number NHTSA–2018–0021.

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Transflo offers Samsung Galaxy Tablets running the Transflo Mobile+ Platform

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Developed specifically for professional drivers, the Transflo Mobile+ app allows users to manage all their work from a single mobile app on one device. (Courtesy: TRANSFLO)

TAMPA, Fla. — As Transflo continues to grow its digital workflow platform for commercial truck fleets and drivers, the company now offers the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch 32GB LTE tablet compatible with the Transflo Mobile+ app and all Transflo products and services, including the industry’s leading electronic logging device (ELD) for mobile platforms.

Drivers can easily access information including electronic records of duty status on the Galaxy’s clear, bright 8-inch touch display, and its LTE connectivity ensures seamless cloud integration and compliance with U.S. FMCSA regulations for wireless transfers of hours-of-service data.

“The Samsung Galaxy Tab A running the Transflo Mobile+ app is the perfect solution for anyone currently using our ELD or who is about to transition to one,” said Vice President of Product and Innovation Doug Schrier. “It’s the only device that fleets and drivers need to manage a mobile workflow and get more done, anywhere and everywhere the job takes them.”

Schrier said the Samsung Galaxy Tab A uses the Android operating system, has 32GB internal storage, dual cameras (for document scanning), and a 1.4GHz quad-core processor for a combination of fast performance and power efficiency. Transflo also offers a range of mounting and charging options to keep the device powered up and secure inside the cab.

Developed specifically for professional drivers, Schrier said the Transflo Mobile+ app allows users to manage all their work from a single mobile app on one device. Additionally, Transflo’s ELD bundles offer complete fleet solutions that integrate with the mobile app and include: document scanning; integrated GPS-based navigation; weigh station bypass technology; two-way messaging; and services for finding fuel, truck scales, and other essential services.

Transflo offers the Samsung Galaxy Tab A with data plans through AT&T and T-Mobile.

For more information about tablets and Transflo’s ELD bundles, please visit transflo.com.

 

 

 

 

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