Tomorrow's truck

Bosch’s vision for next-generation commercial vehicles supplements technology with web-based logistics services

In the coming decade, truck drivers’ roles will change dramatically to include transport status checks via the cloud, organising routes, and adjusting them to take on additional cargo.

To accommodate these demands, trucks will be fully connected, with the ability to run in platoons. These and other advances in commercial vehicle technology were demonstrated by Bosch in its Vision X concept truck.

Dr Rolf Bulander, chairman of Bosch’s mobility solutions business, explains: “The ways we have at our disposal to improve the efficiency of goods transport are more than ever before. One of these is to cut a commercial vehicle’s operating costs, an approach that includes automating the vehicle. Another is to make the whole logistics chain more cost-effective by implementing web-based services.

“We will turn the truck into a 40-tonne smart device. Its software functionality will increase over six times by 2025, and will have 20 times the computing capacity it does today. Connectivity is much more than an aid in commercial vehicle automation; it is also a direct help in cutting operating costs.”

One example of this is Bosch’s fleet management solution: connectivity control units that access and use data to uncover errors and wear and tear early on so that vehicles don’t break down and can be maintained properly.

Next year the company will launch TraQ, an Industry 4.0 solution that monitors goods with the help of integrated micromechanical sensors, which enables customers to know the location and condition of their cargo. Sensors installed in the packaging, or even in the product itself, record information such as temperature, vibration, light and humidity levels, which is then sent to the cloud. Software in the cloud compares the readings with permitted levels. If one of these levels is exceeded, alerts are sent to customers, suppliers and service providers.

The sensors also transmit information on position, which allows expected arrival times to be calculated and transport management to be optimised. Trailer sensors will continually report the location and load level, increasing security, and making freight handling and transport management systems faster and smarter.

Vision X also has many new safety features, including a digital mirror system that replaces a commercial vehicle’s large side-view mirrors with video sensors and screens inside the cab. This digital technology makes it possible to have situation-specific display: when the truck is on the highway the driver can see further behind the vehicle, while in the city the angle of view is made as large as possible to provide greater safety.

This Mirror Cam system reduces wind resistance. It cuts fuel consumption by up to 2%, equating to ¤1,000 a year, and eliminates blind spots. The addition of a night mode will improve the driver’s vision in the dark.

Bosch has also improved the protection of drivers with the electronic control unit for airbags. The unit reads signals sent by the acceleration sensors to determine the force of an impending collision and activates the passive security systems, such as seat-belt pre-tensioners and airbags. It also continuously monitors and analyses vehicle movements and recognises critical situations, such as when a truck rolls over.

Meanwhile, the vehicle’s neoSense touchscreen gives haptic feedback to users, so they can feel their way around the screen without having to take their eyes off the road.

New functions on the way include turning, lane changing, and manoeuvring assistants. Bosch estimates that together these systems will be able to prevent 90% of accidents caused by trucks.

The company is also working on GPS devices that will make maps more accessible – they will take 3D elements such as conspicuous buildings and display them on an additional level of the map to help users find their bearings. Realtime information about the weather and diesel prices can also be included.

“The economic benefits of connectivity are so substantial that, by next year, every new truck in Europe and the US will be telematics-capable,” concludes Bulander.

tags: Bosch Commercial Vehicles