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Connectivity, autonomous cars and hybrid engines: an overview of the latest innovations from the Iaa of Hannover

Commercial and industrial vehicles


Low emissions, vehicle networking and automatic driving held court at the 2018 edition of the IAA in Hanover, dedicated, as always in even years, to commercial and industrial vehicles. 

Massimo Condolo


Low emissions, vehicle networking and automatic driving held court at the 2018 edition of the IAA in Hanover, dedicated, as always in even years, to commercial and industrial vehicles. The long awaited autonomous truck is not here yet, if not in the form of a concept, but increasingly advanced safety systems are going in precisely that direction. Alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles are looking to clean emissions up, while on-board networks open up to connections with the company's management systems and personal drivers' terminals, as well as smartphones and tablets.


Digital rear view

Mirrorcams, camera-based rear-view mirrors and a 15" viewer fixed to the cab's uprights are the striking new features of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, developed as a fourth generation truck. This has led to a clear improvement in aerodynamics, which together with the new gear train, a more precise management of its predictive cruise (possible through more complete maps), earned the Actros fuel savings ranging from 3% on motorways to 5% on long-distance intercity routes. The on-board computer system interacts via cloud with management software and is accessible to the driver via an iOS or Android app. Among safety systems, the fifth generation Aba braking assistant made its debut, covering all possible situations (vehicles ahead, pedestrians, oncoming vehicles) integrating the radar signal with the cameras. The Vision Urbanetic concept is even more futuristic, a self-driving and obviously electric-powered chassis that can change bodywork throughout the day depending on whether there is a higher demand for freight or passenger transport. In a "truck" configuration it can load up to 10 europallet with a total length of 5.14 m (3.7 in the cargo area). Furthermore, the vehicle interacts with transport requests but is also able to process these according to what it "sees" on the street, for example a large crowd leaving a concert.


Closer to Mother Earth

Scania revisits a classic, the low-entry urban distribution truck. At one time a special version of the Swedish manufacturer’s P series, it has now been dignified with its very own name, the L series. Besides the easy-access low-entry cab, the L-series relies on a 5-cylinder in-line 9.7 litre engine, which can run on HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil) just as the P-series. The "greener" version, for now, is the one with a hybrid kinematic chain which, in the course of 2019, will be flanked by a plug-in hybrid rechargeable in just 20 minutes, possibly during loading and offloading operations.

Scania hybrids can travel up to 10 km, thus completing a cycle of urban deliveries, in pure electric mode. The first gas-powered (LNG) intercity bus is a further move in the direction of environmental sustainability: it is a 13-meter Interlink range, with medium-height platform, capable of guaranteeing a range of 1000 km. Thanks to the Scania Zone function, fleet managers can limit the vehicle’s operability within specific areas to reduce emissions and noise levels or automatically activate some devices, for example flashing lights when the truck approaches a pedestrian zone or a school. This is only the beginning; the future will likely introduce more functions related to the vehicle’s position within a defined area. The company can decide whether to limit the work of the vehicle by simply warning the driver or through automatic systems, allowing the driver to override the system when managing an emergency. 


Cut to the bone and autonomous

The chassis looks like that of a truck, but with no engine or cab. Volvo’s newest concept for shuttle services, for example between ports and logistics hubs or within them, is in fact both electric and autonomous. It hooks to a semitrailer with a normal fifth-wheel coupling and starts moving, constantly communicating with a cloud that knows its position with the precision of one centimetre. Trials, within some logistics operators, will soon be underway, which will guarantee great reductions in both emissions and costs.

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