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Scania Active Prediction system alters speed based on topography to save fuel

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December 17, 2011

Scania trucks will soon offer Active Prediction

Scania trucks will soon offer Active Prediction

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Automakers around the world are currently working overtime to make their vehicles more efficient and cleaner through smaller engines, electric systems and lower weights. As this Active Prediction system from Volkswagen subsidiary Scania shows, secondary technological components can also play a role.

The system fuses GPS and cruise control, allowing the vehicle to predict terrain features of the road ahead. The system predicts the topography ahead and automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed as needed. If you're approaching a downhill, Scania will slow the engine, allowing you to cruise down it. The vehicle will also adjust for ascents.

The Scania system offers the most benefits on undulating terrain, since a flat drive wouldn't require making adjustments to speed. Volkswagen estimates that it can provide up to a 3 percent fuel savings when compared to a regular cruise control system. The company also says that while the system may add a couple minutes to your commute by slowing you down on certain stretches of road, the extra time shouldn't be significant for most commuters (though you might want to shut off the system if you're running late).

Another German auto group - Daimler - introduced a similar system in 2009. Also for trucks, the Predictive Cruise Control system offers the same functionality as Scania's system.

Scania/Volkswagen, is currently positioning the system at the commercial trucking industry, which stands to gain the most money in terms of better fuel economy. It estimates that a 40-tonne tractor trailer traveling around 180,000 kilometers (112,000 miles) a year could save EUR2,200 (US$2,900) and cut more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Scania plans to equip the Active Prediction system to customer trucks beginning next year. It has the topographic data that it needs to power the system for 95 percent of the road network in western and central Europe.

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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7 Comments

Now we have dumbed down driving even more. Look, I see a hill, what should I do?

Joseph J Shimandle
18th December, 2011 @ 08:12 am PST

Hmmm good idea - next step - monkey brain in a jar driving the truck.

I can understand clever cruise control - but "predictive"? I mean the ONLY terrain that actually counts is the road that the truck is actually on at that time.

Incline, decline, and flat road. This only computes in the issue of speed maintenance in terms of "incline = more power", "Decline = less power", and "Flat road = Keep the power steady".

It's a simple issue of actively computing the power and constant velocity ratios in real time. "More speed = less power" and "Less speed = More Power".

So where is the benefit in "predicting" the gradients, or knowing what they are, before reaching them?

Mr Stiffy
18th December, 2011 @ 06:04 pm PST

Predictive Cruise control, is probably more to do with achieving a targeted fuel consumption for the trip (and over the lifetime of the vehicle..)

For instance, there is no point running at a long grade faster than a certain point, if the truck is to be slowed down to 20 km/hr by the top anyhow.... tripling fuel consumption up the grade, when it may actually be better to slow down at the bottom, shift to a lower gear earlier, and achieve a constant speed up the incline, with lower overall fuel use and stress to the vehicle, risk of accident etc, as the driver may behave more recklessly in the belief that they need to start with 120 km at the bottom.... (when they may still be crawling by the top regardless....)

There may be a benefit in predicting future gradients when it comes to energy recovery on declines in electro / hydraulic/ pneumatic, hybrid energy recovery systems....

Of course, if you spend all of your time driving on flat country, there will be a weight penalty with carrying the energy recovery gear... so in reality these systems need to be evaluated on a Route by route basis by anyone considering employing them...

Still on the Inter state highways, Predictive cruise control, can maintain safe braking distances, and more constant average speed (except when the one 'drongo' on the road decided that they can always perform better than the computer thereby holding up the others, causing accidents and bottle-necks...... they are the one who will make these systems replace all of the (good and bad) drivers in the near future, there is always one who spoils it for the rest...)

Come to think of it, why do we need trucks on the inter states anyhow, aren't rail lines more efficient, and cheaper to place and repair than the roads.... (apart from the monopolies who own the networks charging ridiculous prices per tonne for using their network...) more point to point, and expandable.. (one extra rail line uses up 20 feet of land, an extra road uses up 200 feet (plus))

MD
18th December, 2011 @ 09:47 pm PST

Something similar to "predictive cruise control' is already in use on some of the USA rail network. Knowing the terrain makes the train much more efficienct that if controlled by the engineers. It is a matter of controlling the throttle so that the extra power needed for a grade is applied at the point (or just before) the grade begins, rather than after. And the amount of power to handle the grade is based on reality rather than perception/machismo.

Regarding the question of trucks vs. rail, anyone who has worked in the transportation industry understands the benefits/drawbacks to rail and truck shipments. And while a new road could take up 200 feet, an extra lane (even with a matching one in the opposite direction) is much less. Since much of the rail network is one-way, an extra set of rails would certainly help, but the capital costs are staggering.

Bruce H. Anderson
19th December, 2011 @ 08:39 am PST

future trucking will be in the air. Surface transport will soon be killed off with most of humans.

Stewart Mitchell
19th December, 2011 @ 09:21 am PST

This is significant, even in the family SUV. Why is it that some drivers can manage spectacular gas mileage while others, in the same vehicle, are unable to come close? The secret is in the subtle but important conservation of inertia and use of energy potential.

Automated systems like this one are OK but will not approach the ability of the best drivers until they map the best drivers' performance over millions of km of roadways...something only Google might be able to pull off. Fuel savings of 10% should be easily attainable and unless the electronics package payback time is less than 2 years, the idea is probably under developed or over priced.

Mirmillion
19th December, 2011 @ 09:29 am PST

When you come to a downward hill or slope, slip into neutral. Do not then turn off the engine. You will lock the steering. The engine slows down to 750 rpm, instead of 2000rpm. On the flat, accelerate smoothly to just over the speed limit, then cruise in neutral. You will be surprised how far you can travel before you lose too much speed. Just pop back into gear and gain a bit more speed

Yes, this is probably illegal, but it is very easy to re-engage the engine as necessary. Don't accelerate up to traffic lights, then slam on the brakes. You will get familiar with local roads, and learn where to slow down without using the brakes. It becomes instinctive after a while.

windykites1
6th August, 2012 @ 11:08 am PDT
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