Kamaz wins Dakar Rally 2017

Kamaz winning image copy

Like the earlier edition, the 2017 Dakar Rally proved to be a test of endurance, patience and, experience.

Story by: Team CV

Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev of the Kamaz-Master truck team claimed his second Dakar rally title on January 14, 2017. Nikolaev completed the final stage between Rio Cuarto and Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a 19-minute lead over his nearest rival to repeat his Dakar success of 2013. Second place was taken by another Russian Kamaz-Master driver, Dmitry Sotnikov, who left defending champion Gerard de Rooy of the Netherlands and his Iveco in the third spot. The Russians were a dominant force in the Dakar truck category with Kamaz bringing home 14 titles since 1996.

In what would be a fierce competition, Martin Kolomy of the Czech Republic surprised the trucks field in the opening stage of 2017 Dakar rally with a first place finish in exactly 30 minutes. Martin Van den Brink and Ales Loprais were placed thirty seconds behind the leader, whilst the title holder Gerard de Rooy (piloting an Iveco Dakar truck) managed to limit the damage to 42 seconds with his left rear wheel catching fire in the last kilometre! Winner of the 2016 title, Gerard De Rooy, started first. He started ahead of the Kamaz driven by Airat Mardeev and the Iveco of Federico Villagra. An announcement by Mark Coma, Dakar Sporting Director, before the start of the event, that the route of the 2017 Dakar preserves rally-raid traditions, held true through out the event as the truck teams fought it out. Coma mentioned that the physical challenge will push the competitors into the world of extreme endurance as they cover seven selective sections over 400 kms with one of them stretching to more than 500 kms. “The rally will be held over six days at more than 3,000 m above sea level. The level of difficulty will increase just until the rest day, then a second increase in power will be necessary, to reach one’s ideal level for the ‘Super Belén’. Nothing will be decided until the very last special stage at Río Cuarto,” he added.

After the first stage in Paraguay that comprised of 39 km only, and against the clock, the competitors got down to grinding their teeth in the first big portion of the Dakar 2017 rally. Stage 2 marked the arrival of the rally into Argentina. The rally, made up of bikes, quads, cars, SSVs, and not just trucks, ran over 800 km of treacherous terrain, including a 275 km special in the region of Chaco. In the special, it was patience that counted the most as the participants faced the dust. It was the kind of dust that turned into mud if it rained. The going was not easy by any means. The route leading to San Miguel de Tucuman could allow Peter Versluis, behind the wheel of a MAN truck, to increase his haul of victories if the provisional results at CP1 were to be believed. Already a winner of four stage victories, Peter Versluis was by no means a novice. The route leading to San Miguel de Tucuman could allow him to increase his haul of victories too. The MAN truck driver led Dmitry Sotnikov and Artur Ardavichus after 120 km of the special. Twenty-three seconds ahead of Sotnikov, Peter Versluis continued to lead the stage. Kolomy was placed second, and Martin Van den Brink was placed third – less than 40 seconds behind. The last few kilometres were decisive. Having come fourth in Stage 1, Maritn Van den Brink, driving a Renault truck, moved up several gears after 200 km to lead the scene. He set the pace in Stage 2, building a lead over three-minutes.

Martin Van Den Brink scored a superb victory in Stage 2, soaring over the end of the special to win with a gap of two minutes over Dmitry Sotnikov. It was Dmitry Sotnikov that the Dutchman was previously neck-to-neck. Martin Kolomy, who finished eighth on the day’s special driving a Tatra truck, dropped down to third position in the general standings. De Rooy and Versluis were nine and 18 seconds adrift in fourth and fifth place respectively. Siarhei Viazovich came sixth. Villagra, Hans Stacey (MAN), Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz) and Artur Ardavichius (MAN) rounded out the top 10. They were separated by less than five minutes. Ton van Genugten, driving an Iveco truck, dropped down the order after losing 13 minutes.

Kamaz driver Eduard Nikolaev won Stage 3. Previous leader, Martin Van den Brink and reigning champion Gerard de Rooy both lost time. The 2013 trucking champion Nikolaev earned a narrow lead over Martin Kolomy and Ton van Genugten in the first part of the stage, and maintained it until the finish. Despite starting the day in the ninth place, the fact that Nikolaev was only one-minute and 23 seconds behind the second placed driver, helped him. It allowed Nikolaev to end up in that very position in the overall standings, just half a minute adrift Kolomy. Federico Villagra was best of the rest. He was now placed third overall, behind Kolomy and Nikolaev. Siarhei Viazovich and Peter Versluis followed the Argentinian. While Kolomy received a penalty of three minutes, thus losing the overall first place to Nikolaev, Stage 3 caught out a couple of big names, including Van den Brink.

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In Stage 4, the competitors encountered altitude. The next few days would see competitors fight it out at an altitude of more than 3,500 m. With rapid acclimatisation necessary, the drivers displayed their skills at crossing dunes at such an altitude. The end of the route (Stage 4) in Bolivia held many surprises. It called for good navigational skills. Airat Mardeev went into an attack mode right at the start of Stage 4. The Kamaz driver snatched the lead right at the beginning of the stage with Gerard de Rooy hot on his tail. De Rooy spent the majority of the 416 km stage, which started in Argentina but finished in Bolivia, less than a minute behind Ayrat Mardeev. Mardeev however had to settle for the second place eventually, half a minute adrift of de Rooy. Close cooperation with Italy-based Petronas Motorpsort saw Iveco Powerstar trucks use special filters to negotiate the Bolivian Andes as the six-cylinder engines unleashed 900 hp of peak power. At the wheel of an Iveco truck, de Rooy led the pack in Stage 4 at an altitude of 4000 m above sea level. The Powerstar engines seemed to lose less power than others. At the end of Stage 4, Mardeev and de Rooy were 14 and 16 minutes behind Sotnikov, the Kamaz driver jumping from sixth to first. Such an improvement was thanks to the five drivers in front losing time. Even Siarhei Viazovich fell more than three hours off the pace at the very beginning of the test. Tatra’s Martin Kolomy and Peter Versluis (MAN) lost an hour and 30 minutes respectively. Eduard Nikolaev and Federico Villagra (Iveco) also dropped behind Sotnikov. The duo however completed the top three with the Argentinian less than two minutes off the pace. So, if Sotnikov, at the wheel of a Kamaz truck finished first at the end of Stage 4, Villagra in an Iveco came second. Nikolaev came third. Anton Shibalov was the third Kamaz driver to come fourth, ahead of De Rooy. Mardeev came fifth.

Stage 5 took the competitors to the high plains of the Bolivian Andes. The variety of terrains made this stage one of the most gruelling. It included crossing two dunes. To be run in two stages, over 438 kms, Stage 5, because of the extreme weather saw the second half being cancelled. Czech driver Martin Kolomý started the stage with his foot to the floor. Snatching the lead, Kolomy stayed seven seconds ahead of Gerard de Rooy. de Rooy snatched the lead from Martin and pulled away to win by nearly 12 minutes. de Rooy became the fifth different overall leader in as many days, following Kolomy, Martin van den Brink, Eduard Nikolaev and Dmitry Sotnikov. Kolomy fell to third place behind fellow Kamaz driver Nikolaev, who took the second place behind de Rooy. Ayrat Mardeev was the third Kamaz in the top four, ahead of Renault’s Pascal de Baar. Second and fourth place, Federico Villagra and Anton Shibalov dropped to sixth and seventh place respectively, amassing a 50-minute deficit. Hans Stacey was the top MAN truck in the eighth place, narrowly edging out teammate Peter Versluis. Extreme weather saw the cancellation of Stage 6 from Oruro to La Paz. Persistent bad weather conditions forced the race directors to change the course of Stage 7 from La Paz to Uyuni. A new course was designed and a new road book was drafted during the rest day.

Scoring in the top ten in each of the stages since the start, Dimitry Sotnikov put his Kamaz truck into overdrive to win his second stage victory of his career at Dakar in the run up too. Uyuni, with a lead of two minutes and 51 seconds over Iveco driver Ton Van Genugten. Sotnikov climbed up to second place in the general standings, which were still led by Gerard de Rooy. de Rooy did the necessary to maintain his advantage. Stage 8 saw the Dakar leave the high plains for a special including off-track racing, which involved crossing fords. The consequences of the rain over the last few days forced the race officials to change the route of Stage 8. With the special section cut down to 174 km, participants headed to the second part of the special at the border between Bolivia and Argentina via a 176 km link section. The second part was unchanged. Martin Van Den Brink took a 13 seconds lead from title holder Gerard de Rooy. The Dutchman took a 23 seconds lead from the second Iveco truck, driven by Federico Villagra as well. Gerard de Rooy lost more than seven minutes whereas his team-mate Federico Villagra stayed ahead of Nikolaev by 45 seconds. Withstanding pressure from Federico Villagra, Martin Van Den Brink won the stage, his second stage victory, with a lead of 17 seconds. Eduard Nikolaev finished third, 42 seconds behind the winner. Dmitry Sotnikov took the lead in general standings.

DAKAR RALLY 2017: PARAGUAY-BOLIVIA-ARGENTINA SS 10 TEAM HINO

DAKAR RALLY 2017

A massive landslide caused by thunderstorms saw Stage 9, from Salta to Chilecito, being cancelled. With the road cut off, the vehicles, competitors, assistance and logistics were diverted to an alternative route through San Antonio de los Cobres, extending the distance by about 200 km. Race caravan regrouped at Chilecito. Eduard Nikolaev brilliantly negotiated Stage 10. The Russian led his two Kamaz team-mates Dmitry Sotnikov and Airat Mardeev. Eduard Nikolaev picked up his second stage victory with a lead of seven minutes over his Kamaz team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov, catapulting him to the top of the general standings for the first time. In Stage 11, the competitors confronted the dunes of San Juan. These stretched for over fifty kms. Leading to the retirement of Gerrit Van Werven, this stage sprang many surprises for truck drivers. Eduard Nikolaev continued to lead. He was the first trucker to get a grip on the day’s special. Nikolaev’s team mates, Dmitry Sotnikov and Airat Mardeev, followed him throughout the course. Nikolaev led Federico Villagra by 41 seconds and Airat Mardeev by one-minute and 18 seconds. Nikolaev won Stage 11 in Rio Cuarto, and was given a tough fight by Argentinean Federico Villagra who wanted to achieve a result on his native land. He fell short by 52 seconds!

500 DE ROOY GERARD (nld) TORRALLARDONA MOISES (esp) RODEWALD DAREK (pol) IVECO PETRONAS TEAM DE ROOY IVECO action during the Dakar 2017 Paraguay Bolivia Argentina , Etape 10 - Stage 10, Chilecito - San Juan,  January 12 - Photo Benjamin Cremel / DPPI

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DAKAR TEAMS  IN ACTION on SS 3

No easy mission

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Designed for heavy duty operations, the 560 hp Astra HD 9 86.56 8×6 with a GVW of 60-tonnes can replace a dumper in opencast mines.

Story by: Gianenrico Griffini

The Astra HD9 86.56 8×6 is by no means a conventional off-road truck. Premiering at the Bauma fair in Munich, Germany, which is dedicated to construction vehicles and machines, and mining equipment, the Astra HD9 86.56 is among the top models in the portfolio of the Italian truck manufacturer. The Astra brand belongs to the CNH industrial Group, and has been designed for heavy-duty missions in extreme working environments typical of the mining-extractive sector in which it can replace a rigid dumper. The opportunity to test it presented itself recently in a quarry in Northern Italy near Piacenza. Equipped

with a Cursor 13 Euro 6 12.8-litre six-cylinder in-line engine that produces 560 hp at 1,900 rpm, and a peak torque of 2,500 Nm at 1,000 rpm, the Astra HD9 86.56 looks remarkable.

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Retarder and engine brake to slow down safely

Like all Iveco heavy-duty (and medium-duty too) engines, the Cursor 13 Euro 6 engine uses a Hi-SCR system for pollutants after-treatment, that does not require an exhaust gas recirculation circuit (EGR). With the Hi-SCR solution there is no need of active regeneration for the diesel particulate filter (DPF), a feature that increases the energy efficiency of the engine and lowers its fuel consumption. The Cursor 13 is equipped with Iveco Super Engine Brake, which is capable of a maximum braking power of 463 kW at 1,900 rpm. The engine, which uses an electronically-controlled variable geometry turbocharger (EVGT), is coupled to a ZF Astronic 16AS 2631 TO 16-speed (plus two reverse gears) automated transmission. The transmission, controlled by an off-road software, has two operational modes, namely fully automatic or manual (sequential).

The powertrain of the Astra HD9 86.56 8×6 rigid tipper is coupled to a Steyr VG2700 disengageble transfer case, which allows a distribution ratio of the drive torque (front and rear) of 1: 2.6. Apart from the Super Engine Brake, the HD9 86.56 8×6 is equipped with an hydraulic retarder (Intarder), integrated to Astronic automated transmission. Both the Intarder and the engine brake are actuated by a 5-stage multi-function lever (which is also used for setting up the cruising speed), located on the right side of the steering column. The first two stages activate the Super Engine Brake, whilst the remaining three also involve the hydraulic retarder. Maximum braking torque is thus provided.

Weighing 24,100 kg, the HD9 86.56 is equipped with a 24 cu. m. Cantoni tipper (specially developed for Astra). The superstructure is made of high strength steel, which has a thickness of 12 mm at the bottom. The side walls are 8 mm thick. A hydraulic gull-wing tail opening design, the superstructure (tipper body) is fitted with an oversized cab guard. The oversized cab guard is designed for mining site operations. Reaching a maximum tilting angle of 58-degrees, the tipper body is equipped with an electronic weighing system, which shows the relevant data on a control display placed in front of the driver’s seat.

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Heavy duty components

The structure of the HD9 86.56 and all the mechanical components have been engineered for heavy-duty tasks. The first drive axle is a double reduction Kessler unit with a loading capacity of 20-tonnes. The third and the fourth axle are also a Kessler (double reduction) unit. They each have a loading capacity of 20-tonnes. The 10 mm C-section chassis side members, spaced by 820 mm, are made of high yield steel with 6 mm reinforcing internal C-profiles. The HD9 front suspension – first and second axle – feature parabolic springs. They are supplemented by hydraulic shock absorbers and two stabilisers (one for each axle). Those of the tandem (cantilever type) have five parabolic leaves (40 mm x 100 mm) swiveling on a central pin.

The braking system of the Astra HD9 86.56 8×6 heavy-duty tipper is drum brake based. There are drum brakes on all axles with the possibility of excluding the anti-lock device (ABS) at speeds below 15 km per hour. The use of 325/95 R24 tyres has the tipper having a high ground clearance. This is crucial to the smooth functioning of the truck as it will spend much of its life travelling over uneven terrain with deep potholes and large stones. Despite the heavy-duty design of the truck, driver comfort has been increased thanks to the correct calibration of the cab suspension and the redesigned interior. The two not only ensure driver ergonomy they also help to retain high level of functionality required by extreme off-road missions.

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At the steering wheel

The HD9 86.56 ZF Astronic automated gearbox does a good job in off-road operations. This is due to the fast (and higher revs) gearchanging, managed by the off-road transmission software. The automated gearbox, however, requires some special precautions, especially on the most demanding terrain. When tackling the most demanding terrain, it is better to use the gearbox in manual mode, pressing two times the D (Drive) button on the dashboard. The right speed can be selected using – with an upward and downward movement – the multi-function lever on the right side of the steering column. Once this operation is done, the engine is in a position to provide high torque at low revs (from 1,000 rpm). The same predictive driving style is needed to engage in advance the differential locks, using the knobs on the console close to the driver’s seat. The Intarder-enhanced engine brake provides a powerful braking action, even when the truck is fully loaded. A pleasant surprise is the comfort level of the cab, due to the good suspension setting. Remarkable is the steering angle. It does not seem to have been heavily affected by the 8×6 chassis architecture.

CV has been appointed an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (ItoY). Being a part of this association gives the magazine exclusive articles, specially written for CV by IToY jury members.

Fuel consumption and emission standards

A comparison between trucks made across tightening Euro emission standards has revealed startling results.

Story by: Team CV

Mercedes-Benz Actros - 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros

The BSVI emission standard in India is three years away. It is comparable to the Euro6 emission standard, that came into force in Europe in 2014. As the Indian commercial vehicle industry warms up to the enforcement of BSIV emission standard pan-India by April 2017, and BSVI by mid-2020, a comparison of trucks in Europe has revealed how they have performed in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions as they progressed through the Euro emission standards. A comparative test drive certified by the test organisation Dekra in August 2016 saw three Mercedes-Benz trucks from 1996, 2003 and 2016 respectively being put through their paces on the demanding and universally recognised test circuit of the commercial vehicle magazine ‘Lastauto Omnibus’ in Germany.

The test circuit, a long distance route from Stuttgart to Hamburg and then to Stuttgart, has been used by Mercedes-Benz to carry out in-house test drives. ‘Lastauto Omnibus’ carried out an independent and exhaustive test drive under the watchful eye of Dekra. Dekra took part in this three-generation truck comparison as an independent test organisation. The test verification was particularly appropriate because the positive development in the fuel consumption of heavy trucks is currently under constant scrutiny by politicians. The test was structured to measure the on-road fuel consumption and mileage according to the test manager Frank Zeitzen. They included test vehicles that have been identically prepared as far as possible, and with highly experienced truck test journalists at the wheel. The test drivers took turns behind the wheel after each test round, and the semitrailers were changed every day. Doing this ensured the trailers being towed were used the same number of times by each tractor (prime mover). This would eliminate any difference in the rolling characteristics.

Mercedes-Benz Actros - 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros Mercedes-Benz Actros - 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros

Mercedes-Benz Actros - 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros 

Attention to detail

The semitrailers were identically loaded and had the same tyres. For the three-generation comparison, three box semitrailers were loaded to an identical 32-tonnes. They were fitted with the same tyres. To reflect the progress made in rolling characteristics, the basic Mercedes-Benz SK 1844 truck from 1996 was shod with the then popular Michelin XZA/XDA tyres of size 295/80-22.5. The second test truck, the Actros 1846 (from 2003) was fitted with tyres from the Michelin Multiway family, in size 315/70-22.5. The latest Actros 1845 Euro VI truck was fitted with factory-fresh Michelin tyres in size 315/70-22.5. Where the mileage of the test vehicles is concerned, the new Actros Euro VI truck was at a slight disadvantage. With just over 8000 km on the clock, it was not yet quite run-in. The best fuel economy thanks to minimised resistances within major assemblies is normally to be expected after around 50000 km. The Actros 1846 Euro3 (from 2003) used in the test was thoroughly run-in at 55000 km. The 20 year-old, Euro2 Mercedes-Benz SK 1844 had an odometer reading of 610,000 km. The cruising speed and overshoot, and undershoot times for downhill and uphill gradients were defined and monitored by the recording personnel. Conventional cruise control was used to ensure a consistent cruising speed for the two older trucks. In the latest Actros this was taken care of by the Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) system. Six measuring rounds of 256 km were absolved on the test circuit. The test drivers changed vehicles after each measuring run, and the 32-tonne trailers were also exchanged in accordance with the assigned driver. Every evening the vehicles were refuelled under precise, temperature-compensated conditions.

Attention to detail

The highly precise test preparation and execution proved to be of much practical relevance. Especially when one would consider that the test would be held on a comparatively demanding circuit when compared to the classic Stuttgart-Hamburg-Stuttgart test route used by Mercedes-Benz to measure trip consumption. The test procedure banked upon what the participants would call as the ‘Vecto’. By ‘Vecto’ they meant ‘Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool’. Major input data was measured and subsequently processed using a calculation tool officially provided by the European Commission. The test course to be used was defined by the representative of European long-distance operations in a very involved process. For example, the aerodynamic drag of every single cab variant of a truck model was measured on the road by independent test organisations. The same applied to the rolling resistance of tyres. Tyre manufacturers were called to demonstrate the rolling characteristics of their product lines. For example, different sizes, substructures and tread patterns. Where the powertrain consisting of the engine, transmission and drive axles were concerned, the manufacturer was called upon. The same was the case with the cab.

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Mercedes-Benz Actros - 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros – 20 years of fuel savings; September 2016

The outcome

At the end of the test, it was revealed that despite drastically more stringent emission standards for nitrogen oxides and particulates, the fuel consumption of heavy trucks has gone down by 22 per cent over the last 20 years. The model 1844, certified according to Euro2 standard valid in 1996, was allowed to emit seven grams of NOx per kilowatt hour (kWh) while staying within the limiting value of 0.15 g/kWh for particulate matter. The number and size of the soot and other particles was not prescribed. The Actros 1846 (of 2003) was certified according to emission standard Euro3, with five grams of NOx per kilowatt hour (kWh) and 0.10 g/kWh of particulate mass. The latest-generation EuroVI Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845 betters the older Euro3 truck by 94.3 per cent (NOx, present limit 0.4 g/kWh) and 96 per cent (0.01 g/kWh) for particulate mass. The current measuring conditions are far more stringent. Daimler sources claim that the (22 per cent) reduction in fuel consumption has resulted in savings of more than 50 million tonnes of CO2 by Mercedes-Benz trucks in Europe since 1996. They draw attention to how the calculation is done, and on what parameters. They add, sales of around one million Mercedes-Benz trucks in the segment of long-distance transport in Europe between 1996 and today, as well as a conservative estimate for the annual mileage of 75000 km per vehicle, and a service life of eight years led to this estimation. The current fuel consumption per 100 km measured during the certified Dekra test run for the years 1996, 2003 and 2016 is extrapolated on a linear basis for the other years.

Against a background of drastically reduced emission levels in the ‘traditional’ pollutant categories, the actual on-the-road consumption for the test covering 1536 km on a demanding topography with a test weight of 40 tonnes turned out the following results: The 20 year-old Mercedes-Benz SK (model 1844) reached a figure of 40.8-litre per 100 km. The Actros 1846 Euro3 truck consumed 37.4-litre per 100 km, and the Euro6 Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845 consumed a meagre 31.9-litre per 100 km. All this, over an identical route and distance. Interestingly, the exhaust emission reduction from Euro2 in 1996 to the current Euro6 has been a drastic 96 per cent.

CV tech at CES 2017

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CV technologies at CES 2017 reflected on the future of autonomous and automated driving.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Held at Las Vegas, US, the CES 2017 fair saw the display of commercial vehicle technologies that will further the case of automonous and automated driving. The 2017 edition, held between January 05 and January 08, 2017, brought to the fore the latest in technologies. Technologies that will set the tone for the future. As a launchpad for new innovation and technology, the CV technologies that shone at the show were the Mercedes-Benz ‘Vision Van’, Volkswagen ‘I.D. Electric Concept’, and Honda ‘New Electric Urban Vehicle (NEUV)’.

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The NEUV from Honda is an urban electric vehicle designed for ‘ride sharing’ with enough storage space at the rear. Capable of moving people, and cargo, the NEUV, according to Honda is an automated electric commuter vehicle equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered ‘emotion engine’. The ‘emotion engine’ of the NEUV was developed by Cocoro SB, a Japanese AI specialist. Said to be capable of judging the emotions of the driver, and accordingly changing the ‘behaviour’, the ‘emotion engine’ also takes into account the driver’s past decisions to recommend new choices. The process is called as Automated Network Assistant (ANA). The incorporation of AI in NEUV, claimed a Honda source, helped the company to harness the power of artificial intelligence, robotics and big data. It also helped them to create new possibilities for human interaction with an electric car. Exploring the idea of how to create new value for its owner by functioning as an automated ride-sharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off commuters at local destinations, even in the absence of the owner, the NEUV has a touch panel, which the driver and passenger can use. There’s an electric skateboard for ‘last mile’ transit. The header-less windshield improves visibility.

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At CES 2017, Volkswagen spoke about an I.D. electric microbus concept that builds upon the concept of a highly automated electric car shown at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The microbus concept can cover a distance of 400 to 600 kms on a single charge. Combining digitally connected world with an electric drive, the concept highlights the idea of an unique identity. Whoever drives the vehicle gets a Volkswagen identity. Therefore the name I.D. The identity is an individual profile, which enables the owner to save his or her personal seat and air conditioning settings, favourite radio stations and songs, sound system settings, exterior sounds, configuration of the navigation system, and type of ambient lighting. It can also save the contact details of the driver’s friends and business associates. This profile is then available for secure access via the cloud, enabling the I.D. to recognise the legitimate user by their smartphone, using a digital key. As of current, the I.D. Electric microbus has a car for company. Both are based on what the Volkswagen engineers term as an all-new Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform. Expected to go into production by 2020, the electric microbus, designed to connect with the legendary Transporter Kombi, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds. An all-wheel drive, the concept can fast charge up to 150 kW.

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The Mercedes Benz ‘Vision van’ comes with a fully automated cargo loading system. Automated racks organise the packages for the driver. The system loads all parcels at the same time and organises them to show the deliverer the exact load configuration. It ensures that the right package is made available, and at the right time this depends on the delivery destination. Heightening the futuristic appeal are the two drones atop the van. While human intervention is needed to drop-off something at the doorstep conventionally, the drones in the latter are said to be capable of delivering packages, weighing up to four pounds within a six-mile radius, and at speeds of up to 60 kmph. Their flying height range is between 50 m and 200 m. The van concept features telematics unit that collects and processes data concerning the delivery status. The data is sent to the distribution manager, increasing accuracy. Such systems, according to Daimler sources, allow drivers to deliver multiple packages at once, increasing efficiency in an urban environment especially. The van is equipped with a 75 kW electric drive. Depending on the intended application, it can travel between 80 and 270 km on a single charge. Designed with an aim to boost the efficiency of delivery by up to 50 per cent, the ‘Vision Van’ is part of a five-year, Euro 500 million revamp of Mercedes-Benz’s commercial vehicle division. Going forward, the new feature set is said to hold the capability of being scaled up to public transit, such that it makes public transit. Capable of paving way for individual transport of passengers on similar lines during peak and off-peak hours via modern day ride-sharing concepts, the ‘vision van’ is truly a reflection of the future.

Automotive suppliers at CES 2017

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American technology company Nvidia and automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG launched a new, self-driving vehicle system designed for commercial applications. The ZF ProAI system is claimed to make commercial vehicles involved in factory work and agriculture autonomous. According to Nvidia Automotive Vice President, Rob Csongr, ‘artificial intelligence’ is a technology that will spark an industrial revolution. Not just trucks, but the ProAI system is expected to benefit commercial vehicles like forklifts and ‘material-handling vehicles’. “The benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered vehicles are a drop in traffic congestion and fatalities,”he added. At CES 2017, tier suppliers Delphi, Valeo, and Autoliv demonstrated incremental improvements in areas like sensors and software. Delphi showcased a new multilayer graphics display, which is the result of Delphi’s acquisition of New Zealand-based Pure Depth. The technology is expected to go into series production in 2019. With its partner DigiLens, Continental showcased a ‘head-up display’, which projects over a larger area of the windshield than the current crop of projectors are capable of. German transportation technology company IAV Automotive Engineering showcased automated driving technology that is aimed at reducing urban traffic jams and the associated pollution. Esri’s Enterprise GIS platform services on Azure Cloud provide geographic and analytical content that better understands driver behavior, predicts road conditions to improve traffic flow, and shares data from vehicle sensors connected to the ecosystem. These features are claimed to allow ‘smart cities’ to react swiftly to issues like unsafe bumps or dangerous objects on the road. Swiss Re simulated customised insurance coverage using Microsoft’s Azure technology to deliver future connected mobility solutions.

Auman EST is Chinese Truck of the Year 2017

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Auman EST, produced by Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co., Ltd. (BFDA), a 50: 50 joint venture between Daimler AG and Foton Motor, has won the Chinese Truck of the Year 2017 award. A jury comprising of transport operators, engineers, and Commercial Vehicle Magazine (China) journalists selected the truck for the title. The selection criteria calls for the truck to be developed and assembled in China by either a domestic manufactuer or a joint-venture company. The truck has to be launched in the previous 12 months, and should have made the greatest contribution to road transport efficiency. The selection was supported by the International Truck of the Year, which is chaired by senior trucking journalist from Italy, Gianenrico Griffini, and made up of 32 commercial vehicle editors and senior journalists representing 32 major trucking magazines in Europe, China, South Africa, India, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Iran. Representating a big leap, the Auman EST is fitted with a spacious cabin that looks premium with the use of high quality materials. Powered by a 12-litre EuroV Mercedes-Benz OM 457 engine or a Foton-Cummins engine, and an automated ZF Traxon transmission, the Auman EST comes with a long list of safety and security equipment including ABS, ASR, ESP, emergency brake assist, lane departure warning system, tyre pressure monitoring, load sensors and theft protection. The title award was presented on the eve of the third Guangzhou International Commercial Vehicle Exhibition on November 17, 2016. Upon winning the title, Zhou Liang, President and CEO of BFDA, expressed, “The Auman EST embodies Daimler Trucks’ advanced technologies and our strong commitment to providing trucks adapted to the specific requirements of Chinese customers.” “This award highlights the success of our German-Sino cooperation between Daimler and Foton,” he added. Yu, the chairwoman of the Chinese Truck of the Year, and Gianenrico Griffini, commented that BDFA, in the form of Auman EST, has introduced an advanced truck that represents the shape of things to come in the Chinese market.

Autonomous trucks: How soon and how much?

Despite many countries rising up to the challenge of autonomous trucks, it is highly unlikely to yield a truly driver-less automobile.

Story by:

Team CV

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Excitement about automonous trucks continues to rise. Especially after Daimler AG put an autonomous truck on the German autobahn last year and followed it up with an autonomous drive over a public road in the USA. More and more countries are rising up to the challenge of autonomous trucks. In his budget speech on March 16, 2016, Chancellor George Osborn announced that government will establish in UK a global centre for excellence in connected and autonomous vehicles; conduct trials of driverless vehicles on the strategic road network by 2017; will consult on sweeping away regulatory barriers within this Parliament to enable autonomous vehicles on England’s major roads; establish a £15 million ‘connected corridor’ from London to Dover to enable vehicles to communicate wirelessly with infrastructure and potentially other vehicles, and carry out trials of truck platooning on the strategic road network.

The image of a Daimler engineer reading a magazine behind the wheel of a giant lorry may look amusing and even scary as the truck races down an autobahn, known as a symbol of Germany’s penchant for speed, the question, as more countries join the autonomous vehicles race, and especially that of trucks, is how autonomous will the vehicles actually be? Many may agree to the fact that autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to bring major improvements to journeys, both in terms of convenience as well as safety. The extent of automation, even those that are working on autonomous vehicle programs are of the opinion, or it seems, is not going to yield a truly driverless automobile. Not in the near future, and neither in distant future!

Look at the Daimler’s Highway Pilot autonomous truck trial. The Highway Pilot autonomous control system won approval for trials on public highways in a Freightliner truck in the US state of Nevada. Late last year, the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg approved trials of Mercedes-Benz trucks with the Highway Pilot system on its autobahns. Both, as mentioned earlier, have built a good deal of excitement that giant rigs can actually drive themselves. The reality is, these are one of their kind, and may remain the case. It took a long time to develop such working concepts, and it may take longer than that to create an ecosystem that will accommodate such driverless vehicles. This however should not be a reason to be discouraged; technologies that have gone into these autonomous driving concepts are already found in many modern vehicles. There are some that are closer to production. Almost all of these however work such that they aid the driver, leaving him to make the most important decisions. If Sven Ennerst, Head of Truck Product Engineering at Daimler AG is to be believed, what his company has demonstrated is more or less available even today. Technologies that make a truck to steer itself autonomously. Not quite close, but important, is the mention of Volvo’s dynamic steering technology, which improves maneuverability through a precise electric motor, which is controlled 2000 times per second based on driver input and that of the onboard sensors. Volvo Trucks have been conducting autonomous and connected truck trials. It did an autonomous truck trail in the USA much like what Daimler managed.

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The Highway Pilot system steering the vehicle by itself marks a big achievement, and irrespective of the fact that autonomous vehicles will not be the thing of the near or distant future. It builds a picture around the truck, looking up to 250 metres ahead. It is easy to understand what Ennerst is saying when it expressed that the truck can react and drive by itself. Technologies like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning that would have been used in the Mercedes-Benz autonomous truck, and comprises of radar sensors and stereo cameras, are already being offered in automobiles. So, the technology is there. What is the bone of contention, so to speak, in terms of who is responsible in a likely event of an accident, are the regulations. They have been framed to suit the local needs and designs. It was perhaps because of this that Daimler found it easy to conduct the autonomous truck trial in the USA rather than in Europe. A United Nations committee recently amended the 1968 Vienna Convention on road traffic to provide the basis for legalisation on autonomous driving. A key condition of this amendment is that the system can be deactivated or overruled by the driver at any time. This is central to the design of the Highway Pilot! Ennerst is known to have said that safety, driver activity and fuel economy will make a business case for automonous trucks. With the demand for fuel efficiency on the rise, the fuel economy part of the business case is easy to understand. In the case of safety, the need is to understand how the introduction of systems like active brake assist and proximity control assist has resulted in the reduction of accident rates. The future of an autonomous truck will depend on how these and a host of other systems are successfully integrated.

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Set to create an additional level of safety and reduce the number of accidents, automonous trucks are certain to make fleet operators skeptical. It may not account for a profitable business case when they imagine the driver of the truck sitting back and browsing the internet. Ennerst is known to have stated that they expect the driver to take over many of the traffic planner’s functions. The driver would thus become more of a transport manager. With the need for fewer traffic planners, the operating costs of fleet operators will come down. It would also address driver shortage. Driver’s elevation to a traffic manager will make it attractive for him to work as well as earn more. Reduction in fuel consumption achieved by autonomous trucks, which shift gears on their own, and apply the amount of power to have the engine rotate at an optimal rpm, also makes an attractive attribute for lowering the operating costs. Less use of brakes would also result in less wear and tear of braking system components. Most of all, there will be less traffic jams to contend with.

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Scania started platooning truck trials in Sweden in 2012. In 2015, it extended the trails to the Netherlands. In 2015, DAF Trucks also began its EcoTwin project in the Netherlands, run jointly with TNO, a Dutch scientific research organisation. This project would involve platooning of two trucks linked by wi-fi so that the driver of the truck behind does not need to brake, accelerate or steer. Braking, acceleration and steering is taken care of automatically, based on signals from the lead truck. According to Ron Borsboom, DAF Trucks Product Development Director, there’s still quite a lot of development process that needs to be done to ensure that the technology is completely reliable in any situation. It is also important that issues like legislation, liability and acceptance also have to be taken care of properly. In UK, Tructyre Fleet Management is among the eight bodies that were awarded government funding totalling £20 million to research and develop autonomous vehicles recently. The project, ‘Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles’, run by Tructyre also includes the University of Portsmouth, Satellite Applications Catapult and RL Automotive. The aim of the project is to develop an innovative solution to monitor key information from the vehicle and predict safety risks based on analytics. At the core of the research is a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Proterra Catalyst E2 adds new dimension

Proterra Catalyst E2 has added a new dimension to the concept of electromobility.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

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Electromobility is an area no manufacturer would want to stay away from. It is the need of the time, and is perhaps a gateway to the future. It is not surprising therefore to hear about startups wanting to make a mark in electromobility. There calling, it is clear, is technology. Aiming to eliminate the need for diesel powered buses, a Silicon valley startup Proterra, has developed a 40 ft. long city bus. Building electric buses, Proterra started its journey in 2004 at Golden in Colorado with the development of EcoRide BE35, a 11 m long composite body, fast-charge, electric bus that seats 38 people including the driver, and has a passenger capacity of 60. Shifting its base to Burlingame, California, under the leadership of Ryan Popple, formerly the CEO of Tesla, Proterra launched the Catalyst, a 12 m long fast-charge, 100 per cent electric bus, in 2014 to replace the EcoRide BE35. One of the world’s most efficient transit buses, the Proterra, made from low weight composite materials, is found with operators like King County Metro in Washington.

Building upon the legacy created by the BE35, a battery electric bus to complete federally mandated Altoona testing, and later the Catalyst, the Catalyst E2 (E2 stands for efficient energy) is a 12 m long city bus. Debuting recently at the American Public Transport Association (APTA) annual meeting at Los Angeles, the Proterra E2, under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds, proved to be capable of covering roughly 350 miles (over 550 kms) in one juice. The carbon-reinforced composite body of Catalyst E2 resists impact and avoids corrosion. It also lasts long against a conventional transit vehicle according to company sources. Staying on the road for 18 hours at a stretch, Catalyst E2, with the capacity to transfer 77 passengers, employs an advanced electric drivetrain. The drivetrain is supported by regenerative braking system that helps to recapture over 90 per cent of the bus’ kinetic energy. Aiming to cater to longer routes, the Catalyst E2 is all set to carry forward the legacy of the Catalyst FC and XR series. The two are giving tough competition to traditional buses on short and medium range routes.

Since there is no need for creating charging infrastructure extensively, Proterra’s electric buses look like perfect candidates for increased electromobility, including the new Catalyst E2. The Proterra buses that are already operational, are largely plying along defined routes. They can therefore be charged fully when parked overnight. In the case of the Proterra E2, the in-house developed twin-battery pack can store up to 660 kWh. The twin-battery pack can be fully charged in three to five hours using industry standard J1772 CCS plug-in chargers. Having sold over 312 vehicles to 35 different commercial transit, municipal and university agencies, Proterra sources claim that over 540 thousand gallons of diesel has been saved. They claim further that the Proterra buses have completed 2.5 million revenue miles, and eliminated over 10 million pounds of carbon emissions. Set to hit the streets next year, the Proterra E2’s journey will be dictated by rising customer demand. Made at the company’s manufacturing facility at Greenville, South Carolina, the 12 m long bus will contribute to the company’s ambition of doubling production. The Greenville plant has two lines. Funded through FTA grants as well as venture capital funding according to industry sources, Proterra, which is claimed to have raised more than USD 130 million in private equity funding, has registered a sales growth of 220 per cent in 2016 as compared to 2015 sales.