GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- Volvo Trucks in Sweden has developed a new I-See feature that uses a truck’s kinetic energy to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5%.
The system operates like an autopilot, using the transmission’s tilt sensor to determine topography and then uses the truck’s momentum to save fuel. It can: accelerate before an incline begins; avoid changing gears near the brow of a hill; avoid accelerate when approaching a descent; freewheel down downhill portions; brake before a downhill slope ends but release the brakes at the end of the slope to pick up speed ahead of a new ascent.
“If kinetic energy can be exploited to a greater extent, it may help cut fuel consumption. This will benefit both the environment and the industry’s economy, something that is very important today as fuel costs are becoming an increasingly heavy burden on many haulage firms,” relates Anders Eriksson, product developer at Volvo Trucks.
I-See can recall about 4,000 gradients, Volvo says.
“I-See is an autopilot linked to the truck’s cruise control, taking over and handling gear changes, throttle and brakes on gradients, ensuring they all operate in the most fuel-efficient way possible. I-See freewheels as much as possible – so on certain stretches of road no fuel is used at all,” explains Hayder Wokil, product manager at Volvo Trucks.
“In this way fuel consumption can be cut by up to 5%. This figure is based on the results of simulations and tests on public roads. I-See requires use of the cruise control, and we know that on average drivers use cruise control about half the time. For a truck in normal operation, covering 140,000 kilometres a year, the saving will be about 1,000 litres of fuel annually. This makes a big difference to the haulage firm’s profitability.”
The greatest fuel savings, Volvo says, come where there are an abundance of small hills.
“I-See works best in undulating terrain. With moderately long and steep slopes, I-See ensures that you can freewheel for long distances without using the engine,” explains Eriksson. “It is this freewheeling capability that makes the system special. When the truck rolls freely, virtually no fuel is used. But in order to freewheel, a whole lot of data is required.”
He said I-See also saves on brake and tire wear.