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MATS: Daimler puts innovation on display

Posted: August 1, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s not always easy to stay current on all the latest truck technologies, or piece them all together for that matter, so Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) put the puzzle together.

The truck maker is previewing their latest technologies on a new Innovation Truck at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

The Innovation Truck features advanced technologies directly from DTNA’s development labs. It takes Freightliner Trucks’ most aerodynamic solution – the Cascadia – and adds a sampling of cutting-edge advancements that will further enhance fuel economy.

"We’ve created the new Innovation Truck to highlight not only our existing technologies, but to show our customers what they can expect from us in the near future," said Elmar Boeckenhoff, senior vice-president, Engineering and Technology for DTNA. "The Innovation Truck is part of our ongoing effort to shape future transportation by pushing the boundaries in engineering and technology."

Building on the Cascadia platform, the Innovation Truck reflects greater refinement in aerodynamics with the addition of rear wheel fairings to smooth the airflow around the rear wheels, under body panels that smooth air flow under the chassis, a roof deflector to direct air over the trailer, and a front air splitter incorporated into the front bumper to pass air around the truck.

Rear wheel fairings

The Innovation Truck also replaces the mirrors with side view cameras to further reduce drag. The camera system improves the field of view, eliminates blind spots, and reduces the typical "fish eye" effect.

Together these enhancements improve the airflow over, under, and around the vehicle – resulting in further fuel savings.

Mechatronics integrates the electronic and mechanical worlds into systems that help to improve vehicle function and driver interaction.

One such system is the RunSmart Predictive Cruise system. This system offers fuel savings by combining the latest in GPS technology with digital mapping to provide a 3D profile of the road ahead. The truck evaluates the upcoming road profile more than one mile in advance and determines the most fuel efficient vehicle speed.

Further pushing the aerodynamic envelope, the Innovation Truck integrates a Dual Ride Height system that, at highway speeds, lowers the tractor height, reducing under chassis drag. This system utilizes a proprietary front air suspension in conjunction with Freightliner’s popular rear air suspension.

"Aerodynamic drag reduction is at the foundation of DTNA’s engineering efforts, but decreasing friction can also result in fuel economy savings," said Boeckenhoff.

The Innovation Truck is configured with a single drive axle that is complemented with a load management system that can transfer weight to the drive axle in low traction situations. This configuration also reduces weight and cost.

Tire pressure monitoring is another important part of keeping a truck as fuel efficient as possible, and the Innovation Truck features the newest option – a wireless SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system integrated with a Lectronix T7000 navigation/infotainment unit.

The ParkSmart HVAC System featured on the Innovation Truck is now available for the Cascadia. The system provides an integrated system solution for emission-free cooling and highly efficient heating without engine idling. Operating from a second bank of batteries, the ParkSmart system provides eight to 10 hours of cooling and up to 34 hours in the heating mode, using a diesel-fired coolant heater.

The advantage of an electrically-driven HVAC system is that shore power extends operating time while eliminating emissions. As showcased on the Innovation Truck, a fuel cell that produces 3-5 kilowatts of power is enough power to operate convenience items during a 34-hour reset period.

"While the concept of the Innovation Truck is forward-thinking, many of these technologies are available right now or will be within this year," said Boeckenhoff.

For complete coverage and a real-time account of MATS, check out Marco Beghetto’s blog.

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