Volvo Trucks and Renova test autonomous refuse truck

Volvo refuse truck

Together with Swedish waste management company Renova, Volvo Trucks is currently known to be testing and researching how automated vehicles (Volvo FM series) can contribute to safer, more efficient refuse handling. Also how it can create a better working environment for drivers. The automated systems being tested are in principle the same as those fitted to the autonomous Volvo truck operating in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden since autumn 2016.

“Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users naturally imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle’s speed doesn’t exceed a normal walking pace,” mentioned Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks. “The refuse truck we are now testing continuously monitors its surroundings and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road. At the same time, the automated system creates better prerequisites for the driver to keep a watchful eye on everything that happens near the truck,” he added.

The first time the automated refuse truck is used in a new area, it is driven manually while the on-board system constantly monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS technology. The next time the truck enters the same area, it knows exactly which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop. At the first stop with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it exactly the way the job is done today by operating the relevant controls. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon receiving the driver’s command. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes and thus always has full view of what’s happening in the direction of travel.

Speaking on driving the truck in reverse as opposed to driving forward, mentioned Hans Zachrisson, Strategic Development Manager at Renova, that by reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints. “Reversing is otherwise a fairly risky manoeuvre since the driver may find it difficult to see who or what is moving behind the vehicle, even if it is fitted with a camera. In certain areas it is not allowed to reverse with a heavy commercial vehicle for safety reasons, in others it is a requirement that a co-driver must stand behind the truck to ensure that the road is clear before the vehicle is allowed to reverse,” opined Zachrisson. The solution being tested is designed to eliminate these issues. Since sensors (GPS and lidar-based) monitor the area all around the refuse truck, driving is equally safe no matter the direction in which the vehicle is moving. And if for instance the street is blocked by a parked car, the refuse truck can automatically drive around the obstruction provided there is sufficient space alongside. Since the automated systems optimise gear changes, steering and speed, fuel consumption and emissions can also be reduced.

Although the technical scope already exists, a lot of research, testing and development remains before self-driving refuse trucks can become a reality. The current joint project will continue until the end of 2017 and will be followed by an extremely thorough evaluation of functionality, safety and, not least, how well this type of vehicle is accepted by drivers, other road users and local residents. Vehicles with varying degrees of automation will probably be introduced earlier in other applications, where transport assignments take place within strictly confined areas such as mines and cargo terminals.

Avenue IBUS is Turkey’s first smart bus

Avenue IBUS is Turkey's first smart bus

Turkey’s first Smart Bus, Avenue IBUS, was delivered to Kocaeli University Techno Park. A minimum of 1,000 students and Tech park staff are expected to evaluate the IBUS in a minimum of 50 rides over a 25 km radius en-route the university to the techno park. The new improved technology on the bus, Fleetics, is the first product based on the V2SMART platform, co-developed by TEMSA, a member of the Turkish Automotive Manufacturers Association in partnership with STM (Defense Technologies & Engineering INC.). Claimed to be a 100 per cent domestic system, ‘Fleetics’ enables real time and offline examination of the data collected from the buses by using large data infrastructure and data science techniques. Apart from providing data on real-time performance, it also pre-determines malfunctioning of spare parts of the smart buses. Additionally, Fleetics also enables modelling of driver behavior, accident prevention, fuel efficiency, route optimisation, increase of passenger safety among modelling of other cost saving opportunities. In case of the IBUS, the objective is to harness the feedback received from students and the tech staff for further new initiatives by TEMSA and STM in the realm of smart cities and transportation. Drawing attention to the changing individual and social needs in parallel with technological developments, Dincer Celik, General Manager, TEMSA described his organisation as an effective player of the change. “We are focused beyond the horizon. We are not only producing vehicles, we are producing and exporting technology, ” he averred. It was in September 2016 that the two partners started out on a long-term collaboration, in areas spanning smart vehicles, large data analytics, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT), and Cyber Security.

At MoRTH, emphasis is on fast tracking National Highway projects

The Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, emphasised on fast tracking national highways construction projects, claim industry sources. In a review meet of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) projects, the minister emphasised on the record 16,271 km of national highway projects awarded, and 8,231 km worth of national highways constructed during FY2016-17. Work needs to be done at a much faster pace to award more projects and construction, said the minister. During the meet, the minister is also known to have discussed the Mumbai-Vadodara, Bangalore-Chennai and Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressways. The expressway projects are expected to be sanctioned later this year. A tender for 33 wayside amenities is also expected to be floated later this year. The minister, in the meet, is also said to have touched upon electronic toll collection technologies being made available on all lanes at toll plazas by March 2018.

Temperature controlling technology in seat cover introduced in India

Thermacool-Comfort-Seat-560x420 copy

A technology to control temperature through a seat cover is claimed to have been found in India. This is said to make an effective replacement for AC and heater, and aimed at enhancing the comfort of the driver. Called ThermaCool Comfort Seat, the technology, expected to improve safety, especially in heavy vehicles, has been developed jointly by General Motors, USA, and Dhama Innovations according to Kranthi Kiran Vistakula, Founder and CEO of Dhama Innovations. Said Vistakula, “The ThermaCool Comfort Seat technology is capable of keeping the driver at desired temperatures of comfort, between 14 degree Celsius and 50 degree Celsius. The 40 Watt power consumption by the technology is negligible in its impact on mileage.” Stating that for a 300 km drive, one per cent improvement in performance translates into 1000 km of annual improvement. Expressed Jitesh Chheda, Owner, Chheda Cargo Carrier, that AC is not cost effective for a truck transporter since it impacts mileage. Since mileage improvements have an effect on driver earning, it is likely that the driver will not use AC even if it is there in the truck. The comfort seat technology looks promising therefore, he opined.

Uber India seeks compensation from taxi owners and driver associations?

Uber India has approached the Bombay High Court, claim industry sources, seeking Rs.12 crore in damages from taxi owners and drivers associations for harming its reputation, and the livelihood of drivers by protesting against the company. Sources state that the company has sought an injunction to restrain the defendants from stopping Uber drivers to work. The company has alleged that its cab drivers have been verbally abused, physically assaulted and threatened by taxi owners and drivers association. The suit, claim industry sources, refers to the protest held by taxi owners and drivers associations at Azad Maidan in March. Several Uber cars were allegedly damaged and their customers and drivers threatened with dire consequences. Sources claim further that the mobile devices (with Uber App) of the driver partners of Uber were forcibly snatched and their vehicles were damaged; passengers taking trips under the Uber App. were forced out of the vehicles, and driver partners were verbally abused, threatened and even physically assaulted. Uber India is known to claim a total of 830 incidents where their driver partner or passenger travelling in Uber cabs were harassed. The suit is likely to come up for hearing soon.

AMT for Tata buses

Tata Motors has introduced AMT technology in its buses ranging between 9 m and 12 m in length. Expected to reduce driving fatigue for city bus drivers especially, the AMT tech equipped buses are priced at Rs.21 lakh, ex-showroom New Delhi. Available in multiple variants, and for diverse applications, the AMT equipped buses are BSIV emission norms compliant. The transmission, offering manual, automatic, economy and power modes, includes an Automatic Gear Detection (AGD), which ensures sufficient engine torque to ensure agility and driveability even under demanding duty cycles. The economy mode ensures optimal fuel consumption. Coupled to a powerful engine, the AMT takes away the task of operating the clutch and shifting gears from the driver. It takes into account the driver’s operation, engine torque, vehicle load and road inclination, to optimise gear shifting. Tata Motors developed AMT technology in collaboration with Wabco. Expressed Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, that the AMT buses reflect upon their understanding of the customer and provide him CVs with best-in-class value.

Ashok Leyland to invest Rs.400 crore for LCV development

Ashok Leyland has decided to invest Rs.400 crore to develop new LCVs over the next two years, claim industry sources. They point at the CV maker’s strategy to triple its sales in the LCV segment by 2019-20 from the current 35000-36000 unit sales annually. Sources add that the company is keen to apply greater thrust now that the joint ventures with Nissan are behind it, in the domestic market as well as the export markets. With a medium-term allocation of Rs.400 crore, the company, claim sources, is looking at two platforms and several derivatives in right-drive and left-drive configurations. Looking at invading SAARC, GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), Africa and Asean export markets with the new LCVs, Ashok Leyland is said to be looking at exports as a measure to de-risk from the cyclical nature of the domestic CV market. With current LCVs, Dost, Partner and Mitr, doing well, Ashok Leyland, is also expanding its sales network to 450 outlets and 150 dealers pan-India from the current 370 outlets and 113 dealers.