Prior to the launch of its International Test Mission, the optiTruck project held a conference in Brussels on July 2nd, reaching out to key stakeholders at a crucial step in the project’s cycle to present preliminary results and discuss fuel efficiency for road haulage.

Held at the ERTICO offices in Brussels, Belgium, the conference gathered 18 participants from the fields of research, freight operators, vehicle manufacturers, public authorities and transport consultancies.

optiTruck project coordinator Jean-Charles Pandazis (ERTICO – ITS Europe) opened the conference with an overview of the optiTruck project, its objectives and approach. Engin Özatay (OKAN University, Turkey) then introduced the ten innovations developed by the project and their impact on fuel efficiency:

  • Optimisation of powertrain control and calibration according to real world driving behaviour
  • Engine control optimisation using predictive and real time model based control approaches
  • Adaptation to dynamic changes in vehicle load and aerodynamic forces
  • Optimised after-treatment controls
  • Predictive management and control of auxiliary systems
  • Predictive management of cooling system
  • Energy flow operating mode coordinator
  • Driving patterns of surrounding vehicles
  • Driver support information system (ecoNavigation or ecoDriving for trucks)
  • Definition of the transport mission and initial calibration of optimum points (pre-trip and on-trip)

Together, the ten innovations are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%.

Manuel Gaetani (LINKS, Italy) followed up with an overview of the optiTruck Cloud Architecture, its components, software architecture, and how the components communicate between each other. Agostino Marcello (ICOOR-Politecnico di Bari, Italy) expanded on the topic with the functioning of the Cloud-based Optimiser for eco-route planning, composed of two elements: the eco-route planner, and the Vehicle Longitudinal Model. The Cloud-based optimiser determines the optimal route for the vehicle by minimizing the energy consumption and optimizing the route velocity profiles, taking into account a range of parameters including weather forecasts, wind speed, traffic density, road incline and payload. The system will operate in a pre-mission phase by calculating the best route and speed profiles, and then monitor traffic and weather information in real-time to issue adjustments during the in-mission phase if needed.

Kerem Köprübaşı (Ford Otosan, Turkey) then addressed Powertrain optimisation, introducing the Onboard Control System Architecture and the software functionalities developed by Ford Otosan and IAV for the project. Based on data on distance to be covered, predicted speed and predicted wheel power required, the on-board system determines optimal coolant temperature and engine operating mode.

Pictured: optiTruck Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) Loadtray at Ford Otosan premises

Oliver Dingel (IAV, Germany) delved deeper into the optiTruck innovations with a look at the Energy Flow Coordinator and Emission Coordinator, including the Auxiliaries’ Optimiser, which covers a range of different optimisers for the cooling, pneumatic, electric and air conditioning systems for maximum efficiency.

A 5000km real-life transport mission putting the optimiser to the test

Dimitri Margaritis (CERTH/HIT, Greece) and Andrea Condotta (Codognotto, Italy) then explained the objectives of the demonstration and validation activities: to develop a common methodology and evaluation, and test project innovations. The validation will include a 5000km international transport mission starting on July 17th, with two trucks (a baseline truck and a truck fitted with the optiTruck innovations) driving through Turkey, Greece and Italy, as well as a national test mission within Turkey (read more about the international transport mission here).

Dimitri Margaritis (CERTH/HIT) presents the optitruck user interface

The objective of this experiment will be to test and fine-tune the fuel optimiser, the driver interface, and the algorithms underpinning the system. Throughout the journey, sensors will record fuel consumption, urea consumption (AUS 32), CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as impact on driver workload and comfort. All relevant data will be collected, monitored and then analysed in order to determine the impact of the system on fuel economy.

Engin Özatay expanded on the validation activities with a presentation of the simulation tools that have been developed for the project, including reference models and simulation scenarios. Haibo Chen (Leeds University, UK) addressed the impact of upscaling in a context where real-life on-road tests are expensive and time-consuming: the solution would be to feed the hard test data into simulation models, where the optiTruck fuel models could then be calibrated while the various road segments can be simulated with different weather, traffic and driving conditions and different vehicle loads.

Simulations and preliminary results from the national tests missions performed in Turkey already indicate that:

  • based on the simulated results, accurate traffic prediction lets the truck proactively respond to traffic congestion, considerably reducing fuel consumption;
  • fuel consumption significantly increases as the traffic becomes congested, due to frequent acceleration and deceleration;
  • actual fuel consumption is affected by many factors, and particularly by the behaviour of surrounding vehicles;
  • traffic prediction is a promising tool for the optimisation of fuel economy in trucks.

Eco-Innovation for heavy goods vehicles?

The last part of the conference was dedicated to an in-depth panel discussion, featuring Nikolaus Steininger (European Commission Directorate-General for Climate Action), Thomas Fabian (ACEA), Dimitri Margaritis and Andrea Condotta.

The panel held a lively interactive discussion with the audience in an attempt to answer the question: Should we have CO2 target & eco-Innovation for Trucks?

“Should we propose eco-innovation for trucks? How, and through which process? What methodology should be followed in assessing the impact of the solutions proposed?”

This wide-ranging opening question stirred the debate and led the panellists to openly discuss the European Commission’s objectives in terms of CO2 reduction for 2025, 2030 and further.

Under a 2011 Regulation, the European Union can grant an approved ‘eco-innovations’ label to motor vehicle manufacturers for innovations in passenger cars, with a view (at the time) to limit CO2 targets for new cars to 130g/km by 2015. Under this scheme, a technology can qualify as an eco-innovation if it is new to the market; contributes to significant CO2 savings; and is not otherwise taken into account in determining the level of CO2 emissions from vehicles. This regulation is however limited to passenger cars, and the need for an equivalent aimed at heavy duty vehicles is now in question.

The panel also put in question the role of alternative fuels, or renewable power sources, and the place they should occupy in such a scheme, and looked at the impact that the development of automated and connected driving could have on the environmental performance of trucks, in particular with the introduction of truck platooning. Another approach relies not on high technology but on a tried-and-tested solution, namely the transfer of cargo on rail.

What comes next then? ‘The next step is also to improve the “old” existing fleet, looking at retrofitting’ says Dimitris Margaritis.

Meanwhile, the results of the international transport mission will undergo analysis by project partners and will be presented to the public in a webinar in late August – early September 2019: visit optitruck.eu for updates.