Heavy Duty Trucking

AUG 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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Trucking's Most Respected Business Report 26 HDT • AUGUST 2014 www.truckinginfo.com hotline Near-future transmission ZF's TraXon transmission is an innovative modular design that may eventually make it to the U.S., although it will first be available in Europe starting next year. The basic transmission can be coupled with different drive modules to create five different ways to move torque from engine to wheels: a single or twin-plate clutch; a dual-clutch system; a hybrid electric motor; an engine- dependent PTO; and even a torque- converter clutch. In addition, the PreVision GPS shifting strategy anticipates terrain changes and saves fuel thanks to a GPS connection and an inter- face to navigation data, both linked to the gearbox. ZF's technology allows a driver to park the rig more efficiently using a tablet app. L ast month, two German companies demonstrated futuristic technologies to international trucking journalists that allow trucks to be operated without a driver's hands on the wheel. Daimler Trucks showed off its autono- mous truck project, called Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, on an unopened section of autobahn. Other vehicles on the road simulated real-world driving conditions as a specially equipped Mer- cedes Actros tractor-trailer completed an autonomous journey. A driver was inside the cab, but without hands or feet on the controls. The "extremely intelligent" Highway Pilot assistance system enables the rig to drive completely autonomously at speeds of up to nearly 53 mph. Daimler believes the technol- ogy could address concerns about overcrowded highway infrastructure, the environment, and the truck driver shortage. Future Truck 2025 builds on Daimler's technological experience, with its Mercedes-Benz operation having al- ready installed driver assistance in its trucks abroad, along with proximity cruise control, automatic braking, stability control and lane-keeping assistance systems. Future Truck includes Predictive Powertrain Control, which uses infor- mation about road topography and route characteristics to adjust the operation of the drivetrain in order to maximize fuel economy, according to Daimler. Another demonstration cam from ZF, known for its transmissions. The ZF Innovation Truck, which featured a tractor-trailer with a tandem-axle pup hitched behind by drawbar, parked without a driver's hands on the wheel. A man using a tablet computer walking alongside used a special application that steered the tractor in response to electronic instructions. The value in this electronic remote control is efficiency — backing and parking a rig quickly and precisely so it could be loaded and unloaded without delay, then get back on the road. This exercise for now is mostly theoretical, as combinations like this are seldom used in Europe and no customer has asked for such capabilities, company reps said. ZF's purpose is to suggest that rigs with cargo capacity greater than current tractor-trailers are entirely feasible. – Tom Berg, Senior Editor, and Evan Lockridge, Senior Contributing Editor Future Watch: Trucks that drive themselves This Mercedes Actros is operating on a German autobahn without the driver's hands on the wheel. PHOTO: DAIMLER TRUCKS PHOTO: ZF

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