Daimler Trucks North America previews latest technologies

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Daimler Trucks North America on Thursday, March 19, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., previewed the latest technologies on a new Innovation Truck. 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 designed to 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, DTNA senior vice president of engineering and technology. “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 airflow 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.
  • The Innovation Truck also replaces the mirrors with sideview cameras to further reduce drag. The camera system is designed to improve the field of view, eliminate blind spots and reduce the typical “fish-eye” effect. Together, these enhancements improve the airflow over, under and around the vehicle – resulting in further fuel savings, according to the company. “What makes the Innovation Truck so aerodynamic is not just its shape, but the entire package – from bumper to tail lights,” said Boeckenhoff.

  • Mechatronics Systems 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. Described as a world premiere for the heavy-duty trucking industry, this system offers significant fuel savings by combining the latest in GPS technology with digital mapping to provide a 3-D profile of the road ahead. According to the company, the truck evaluates the upcoming road profile more than one mile in advance and determines the most fuel-efficient vehicle speed. “The RunSmart Predictive Cruise system showcases our commitment to shape the future of transportation,” said Boeckenhoff.
  • 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, according to the company. This system utilizes a proprietary front air suspension in conjunction with Freightliner’s 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, according to the company; 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. This system not only more accurately reports tire pressure, but also features an integrated display that simplifies pressure checks, according to the company.
  • The Innovation Truck is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2010 emissions-compliant using Daimler’s BlueTec emissions technology. The exhaust aftertreatment system is packaged under the right-hand step, and a diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is mounted on the left hand forward frame rail.
  • The ParkSmart HVAC System featured on the Innovation Truck now is available for the Cascadia. The system provides an integrated system solution for emissions-free cooling and highly-efficient heating without engine idling, according to the company; operating from a second bank of batteries, the ParkSmart system provides 8 to 10 hours of cooling and up to 34 hours in the heating mode using a diesel-fired coolant heater.
  • According to the company, the advantage of an electrically-driven HVAC system is that shorepower 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.