At the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show this past fall, power management solutions company Eaton, showcased various pieces of future technologies for commercial vehicles. Some of these technologies will take some time before they are ready for widespread use, but others, may be just around the corner.
Transmission for Electric Commercial Vehicles
The first piece of future technology is Eaton’s 2-speed transmission for heavy and medium duty electric commercial vehicles. This transmission will make many notable improvements including better performance on steep roads, better acceleration, and better overall efficiency. The 2-speed transmission’s greater speed and range of torque allow vehicles to operate with a smaller electric motor. When compared to single speed drive-trains, the 2-speed transmission allows for a greater load capacity, increases driving range, and operates at a lower cost.
Eaton has been developing an Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) to integrate into their transmissions. This system will allow commercial vehicles to dock with little driver engagement.
Included in the ADAS is the dock assist feature which communicates with both Eaton’s automatic dual clutch, and manual transmissions. This feature is available without having to add additional sensors. The way the dock assist feature is simple. While the driver backs up the vehicle into the dock, they apply the service brake and come to a complete stop. Then a switch is flipped on the dashboard to activate the dock assist feature. The feature takes over, controlling speed to back up, and relying on torque pressure to identify when the vehicle has made contact with the dock.
In the future, Eaton plans to create a fully automatic system where the vehicle could be parked anywhere, and controlled to self-park using GPS technology, without a driver in the vehicle.
Waste Heat Recovery
Along with their transmission upgrades, Eaton also showcased a waste heat recovery system that could reduce vehicle emissions and improve fuel economy. This concept system would be available as a direct and indirect system.
The indirect system uses organic fluids from the engine to convert energy lost as heat, into usable energy. The liquid would be boiled and the resulting steam would be used to power a part of the vehicle, such as a turbine for example.
The direct system optimizes air flow in the engine and EGR to deliver a 20% improvement in fuel economy. Still in its early stages, Eaton will be integrating the direct system into a light duty truck to see how well it works.
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