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VN780 Tech Truck Focuses on Driver

SONOMA, Calif. - Volvo's showing at the Bibendum focused on safety and the environment from a driver's point of view.The VN780 Tech Truck was specially prepared as a test platform and demonstrator for...

SONOMA, Calif. – Volvo’s showing at the Bibendum focused on safety and the environment from a driver’s point of view.

The VN780 Tech Truck was specially prepared as a test platform and demonstrator for the latest safety, security and vehicle productivity technologies. It also experiments with ways to reduce idling, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions. But the Tech Truck’s most obvious focus is on the driver’s needs.

Driver environment

The most noticeable interior feature was the bathroom. While a sink with running water is already an option for the Volvo VN, the Technology Truck has a functional shower and tub combination with hot and cold water, and a toilet. Hot water for the system is produced by an onboard electric water heater that runs on either shore power, an onboard generator, or from the truck’s electrical system. The shower/tub unit is incorporated into the bench seat/berth in the sleeper, and folds away into rear seats when not in use.

The passenger seat swivels around to face a fold-down desk. The desk has electrical and communications connections in the wall panel behind it. It is also accessible from the rear seat, so two people can use it at the same time.

Also included (and especially important for the purposes of the Bibendum showing) is an onboard HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, which runs on AC electrical power. This automated climate control system includes a heat pump, electric heater and air conditioner, and allows a driver to have a consistently comfortable cab/sleeper temperature without idling the engine. The AC power can be supplied through the onboard auxiliary generator or from shore power. Volvo Trucks supports the increased use of onboard generators, most recently through participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program.

Other driver environment features installed on the truck are:

Adjustable foot pedals give drivers of different heights their best driving position, since one size does not fit all drivers.

Driver and passenger seats have integrated “belt in seat” seatbelts, for additional comfort.

Driver and passenger seats have massage and “rotary continuous passive motion” for additional comfort during long stretches of driving.

An in-dash DVD player is part of the overall communications and electronic control systems.


Many of the special features reflect safety concerns. These include:

Steer-axle mounted air disc brakes (drum brakes on rear axles), plus antilock brake system, traction control, and roll stability system.

Tire pressure monitoring with an in-dash display.

Remote vision assistance for the left- and right-hand sides of the cab, as well as the rear of the tractor. The system uses small cameras mounted to the truck’s fenders, to give a better view of lower-height vehicles which might otherwise be hidden in the truck’s blind spots.

“Hydrophobic” glass that uses a permanent coating to repel water and suspended dirt, to provide drivers with better visibility in wet driving conditions.

Forward-facing three-point seatbelts in the sleeper berth, to provide passengers with enhanced security while the vehicle is in motion.


The VN780 Tech Truck incorporates a number of existing and developmental systems to demonstrate the possibilities available to the trucking industry, for example wireless Internet access. Drivers can check their e-mail without leaving the truck. Another possibility, two-way Internet videoconferencing, gives drivers a relatively inexpensive means of seeing their family while on the road for extended periods. Other systems on the truck include:

A hands-free mobile phone, using “Bluetooth” technology for remote communications and control of other electronic devices.

Volvo Link wireless messaging.

Wireless Internet access via “Wi-Fi” 802.11 technology

An electronic onboard navigation system, with the capability to perform IFTA reporting, active turn-by-turn directions, and routing assistance. For more information, visit n

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