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Driverless trucks can save a third of the cost too

A conventional commercial vehicle is on the road for nine hours a day, just over a third of a day. The limiting factor is the driver, whose working hours must be adjusted. However, a fully automated vehicle can travel on certain routes almost day and night without stopping. As a result, the fully automated truck immediately produces fair value, which is mostly reflected in the total cost of ownership (TCO), which can thus be reduced by a third. So fully automated trucks are a real economic factor.

Total cost of ownership is derived from the English term total cost of ownership, which shows the true cost of owning an asset. In Hungarian, it’s officially called whole life cost, or total cost of ownership, but the abbreviation TCO is also common.

In the case of commercial vehicles, automation advances could become commercially viable very early on. At the same time, the development of sensors and vehicle chassis for commercial vehicles could also contribute to the development of passenger cars, for example, continental components usually work in all types of vehicles, according to the Continental Group.

To maximize the efficiency of research and development, the company takes a holistic approach: Where possible, it uses the same series of algorithm to automate both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

However, the latter requires vehicle-specific modifications.

Just the size of the car – in Europe trucks and vans are about 16 meters long – it is a challenge to cover the entire car with sensors.

Additional challenges include:

  • The higher position of the camera and the consequent change in the angle of view, as well as the dynamic characteristics resulting from the length and circle of rotation of the vehicle.
  • Fuel efficiency is also a top priority for fleet operators as fuel consumption equals cost. Thus, fuel-efficient driving strategies are very relevant. To this end, Continental takes into account, among other things, the climbing profile of the roads for efficient braking, acceleration and free running, and applies predictive braking at the end of traffic jams.

Wireless Hub2Hub

However, fully automated trucks are showing their true potential in securing logistics supply chains. Heavy trucks (often a combination of trucks and trailers) often follow the same route, with large logistics centers now having good connections near highways. Despite the long and often monotonous roads, the parts of these roads that are taken on the highway require constant attention from the driver, which can lead to serious side effects such as little sleep. Automation reduces the load on the driver and, in particular, prevents rear-end collisions and facilitates compliance with current driving and rest time legislation.

The end result is that fleet operators can save up to a third of their costs if trucks can move between centers completely automatically.

A concept called Hub2Hub could also make up for the labor shortage affecting drivers if they only had to cover subsequent distribution deliveries. In the long run, the Hub2Hub solution will cover the entire journey from the initial loading site to the final destination. Thus, the main focus of job-based development is currently on highway-related functions and their continuous improvement in terms of driving performance, availability and reliability. Step by step, the functions that have already been implemented will be put into practice and then they will be able to deal with more complex situations, such as driving up and down the highway.

Continental is working on sustainable manufacturing of autonomous driving systems to ease drivers’ burdens and make driving safer

said Dr. André Homme, project manager for self-driving cars at Continental. In addition, the company has the expertise to bring automotive technologies into the production chain and not be limited to just one type of vehicle platform.

Feeling – Planning – Doing

To maximize development efficiency, the company takes a holistic approach, which means that in addition to the algorithms being nearly identical, the systems in cars and trucks are nearly 90 percent identical. In both cases, “Sense” means sensing the condition of the vehicle and its surroundings with comprehensive sensors

  • Innovative pedestrian sensing technology,
  • wheel speed sensors,
  • cameras
  • Radars are short and long range.

“Plan” means the implementation of possible actions and necessary decisions by the various electronic control units, i.e. what will happen and how the car should react. The ‘action’ is responsible for the resulting motion planning – what actions the car should perform, what angle it should steer, or how hard to brake. In the case of passenger cars, the system intervenes directly in the vehicle’s control system, for example by operating the brake caliper, the MK C1 electro-hydraulic brake or the electric parking brake.

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