Volvo Says New I-See “Autopilot” System Gives 5% Fuel Economy Boost
Volvo knows today’s truck industry is searching high and low for solutions that cut fuel consumption. One method it has developed is to use the vehicle’s kinetic energy to propel the truck. Now Volvo Trucks has developed I-See, which operates like an autopilot and takes over gear-changing and utilizes gradients to save fuel.
Kinetic energy is the mechanical work needed to reduce an object’s speed to zero. When an object in motion is slowed down, its kinetic energy has to be transformed into some other form of energy. When a vehicle brakes, its kinetic energy is converted into heat. Many manufacturers in the automotive world are now examining solutions for harnessing kinetic energy instead of releasing it as surplus heat.
“If kinetic energy can be exploited to a greater extent, it may help cut fuel consumption. This will benefit both the environment and the industry’s economy, something that is very important today as fuel costs are becoming an increasingly heavy burden on many haulage firms,” relates Anders Eriksson, product developer at Volvo Trucks.
And it is precisely this that Volvo Trucks has succeeded in developing with its new I-See solution. The system harnesses the truck’s own kinetic energy to “push” the vehicle up hills. On downhill gradients the same energy is used for acceleration.
Kinetic energy can save 5 per centVolvo says I-See is linked to the transmission’s tilt sensor and obtains information about the topography digitally. The fact that the system is not dependent on maps makes it more dependable since it always obtains the very latest information. I-See can recall about 4000 gradients, corresponding to a distance of approximately 3,000 miles.
“I-See is an autopilot linked to the truck’s cruise control, taking over and handling gear changes, throttle and brakes on gradients, ensuring they all operate in the most fuel-efficient way possible. I-See freewheels as much as possible – so on certain stretches of road no fuel is used at all,” explains Hayder Wokil, product manager at Volvo Trucks.
“In this way fuel consumption can be cut by up to 5%. This figure is based on the results of simulations and tests on public roads. I-See requires use of the cruise control, and we know that on average drivers use cruise control about half the time. For a truck in normal operation, covering 85,000 miles a year, the saving will be about 265 gallons of fuel annually. This makes a big difference to the haulage firm’s profitability,” says Wokil.