Freightliner Showcases SET Vehicle

by Ingrid Phaneuf

SONOMA, Ca. – Freightliner LLC demonstrated a host of advanced heavy-duty truck technologies at the 2003 Challenge Bibendum.

The Safety-Environment-Technology (SET) Demonstration Vehicle included numerous systems designed to enhance safety, reduce environmental impact and increase productivity. The systems were installed on a Freightliner Class 8 Century Class S/T tractor.

Among the technologies incorporated into the SET vehicle were a Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Unit, Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance, Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 Collision Warning System and a variety of active and passive safety features.

The fuel cell auxiliary power unit uses fuel cell technology to power the comfort and convenience accessories on a parked truck. This cuts the need to idle the engine, thus reducing fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

The APU system was developed by Freightliner and Ballard Power Systems. It includes one Ballard fuel cell stack and a fuel processing system.

The fuel processing system extracts hydrogen from methanol via chemical reaction. The exhaust emissions are limited to water vapor and CO2.

The process generates 42 volts direct current and up to 5 kilowatts that are used to recharge the vehicle’s batteries, the fuel cell system batteries and to provide a power source for cab loads.

The fuel cell APU installed on the SET truck generates three times the capacity of Freightliner’s previous fuel cell APU, unveiled in 2000. It reduces engine idling time by utilizing advanced fuel cell technology to deliver electrical power. Challenges to overcome include the availability and infrastructure of a suitable fuel for the fuel cell and the production cost of the units.

The APU earned the Freightliner truck a B rating in the overnight idling competition at Challenge Bibendum.

When sensor data indicates that a rollover is imminent, Roll Stability Control sends a signal to reduce engine power, apply the engine brake and apply the service brake.

This slows the truck and reduces the forces pushing the vehicle toward rollover. When the vehicle becomes stable, power is restored and the engine brake is turned off.

The Roll Stability Advisor then alerts the driver to the rollover by emitting a loud beep and telling the driver via a dash display exactly how much slower he or she should have been going to make the turn.

The Roll Advisor & Control was developed in conjunction with Meritor WABCO.

The SET vehicle also includes Lane Guidance, an advanced lane departure-warning system. Lane Guidance monitors the truck’s position relative to lane markings, then sounds an audible warning when the truck is about to stray outside its lane.

The advanced system is designed to avoid accidents by warning drivers of unintended lane changes.

The system consists of a digital camera, mounted on the windshield inside the cab; a Central Processing Unit (CPU), located in the overhead console; two speakers located in the left- and right-side doors and associated wiring.

The camera continually gathers visual data, digitizes it and feeds it into the CPU. Using image recognition software and a lane recognition algorithm, the CPU determines if a vehicle is drifting too close to the lane markings.

When this occurs – and if the driver has not activated the turn signal – the CPU sends a signal to emit a distinctive “rumble strip” sound.

When the truck is straying to the left, the warning sound comes from the left speaker.

When the truck is straying to the right, it comes from the right speaker. The driver is expected to steer away from the side of the sound.

Also shown on the SET vehicle is the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 Collision Warning System. A radar-based collision warning system, the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 alerts drivers to potential hazards like stopped or slow-moving vehicles. The EVT-300 features front and side radar sensors.

When a potentially hazardous object is detected in close proximity to the truck, the driver receives visual and audible warnings.

The SET truck also incorporates the EVT-300’s SmartCruise feature, which helps to automatically maintain a pre-set speed or following distance to vehicles ahead.

The SET vehicle also incorporates active and passive safety features standard or available on Freightliner’s Century Class S/T. SET systems available for production models include: Roll Advisor & Control, Lane Guidance and the Eaton-Vorad EVT-300 system.

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