Theft reduction, hybrids on tap for Volvo

  • 25-Apr-2008 02:17 EDT
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Datachassi replaces the orange side marker lights with modified units incorporating sensors and radio transmitters/receivers, which can detect and communicate movement close to the vehicle.

Volvo Trucks has invested in a company developing a system to reduce theft from trucks. Datachassi is a Swedish company based in Jönköping that has developed a system using smart radio technology. By using sensors connected by radio technology, the Datachassi system can link the truck and trailer together. The sensors and radio beacons are built into modified side marker lights on the vehicle.

The sensors monitor movement around the vehicle. If they detect anyone close to it, an alarm can be triggered in the cab by the radio system. An alarm can then be sent via the cell phone network to the truck operator’s depot or to a security company, as required.

Some £6.1 billion worth of goods are stolen from trucks each year in the European Union alone. Most thefts are from trailers, which are difficult to protect particularly when parked in a remote location.

The system has other applications too. The sensors could detect people and objects around the vehicle during maneuvering, or in urban traffic where cyclists and pedestrians are moving close to the vehicle, and alert the driver.

Similarly, the system could communicate with the vehicle’s onboard computer as part of the communication chain monitoring any number of functions from tire pressures to refrigeration temperature. Wireless communication with sensitive freight-carrying radio frequency identification (RFID) tags could also monitor the location and condition of specific goods in transit.

Volvo has made the investment in Datachassi through subsidiary company Volvo Technology Transfer (VTT). Volvo claims that several other truck manufacturers have already expressed an interest in the system.

VTT was established in 1997 to bring the Volvo Group close to new technologies through investment, support businesses based on Volvo technology with a business potential outside the group, and to support innovation within the group.

The company’s current portfolio includes businesses involved in information technology, wireless communications, energy and chemical recovery systems, heat-reflecting glass, vehicle control systems, battery technology, hybrid electrical technology, lighting technology, lightweight components, training, fuel-cell technology, gas turbine systems, computer vision systems, and electronic systems.

Datachassi has applied for Swedish and world patents for its system and plans to bring the product to market by the beginning of 2009.

Volvo has also extended its hybrid-truck testing program by adding two hybrid refuse trucks to its test program ahead of planned series production in 2009. The vehicles will be operated by Swedish refuse collection companies Renova and Ragn-Sells. Staffan Jufors, President and CEO of Volvo Truck Corp. said, “This is the last stage in the evaluation of our hybrid solution ahead of production launch.”

Volvo’s hybrid system combines a 320-bhp (240-kW), 7.0-L diesel engine with a 120-kW integrated starter alternator in the Volvo FE hybrid refuse truck. The electric motor is used to accelerate the vehicle at speeds up to 20 km/h (12 mph). At higher speeds, the diesel engine starts automatically and stops automatically when the vehicle comes to rest. Volvo expects fuel consumption to be reduced by up to 20%.

One of the hybrid refuse trucks is also equipped with a mains rechargeable additional battery pack to power the refuse compactor. Recharging takes place overnight. The compactor system is expected to bring fuel-consumption reductions close to 30%.

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