Operators needed for free trial of real-time NOx emissions recorder

HGV and van fleets are invited to take part in a free trial of a telematics system called Air.Car that provides real-time NOx emissions data.

Tracker, part of the Tantalum Corporation, said the six-month trial will contribute towards “ground-breaking” research that aims to both reduce air pollution and slash operators’ fuel costs.

For those operators taking part, a telematics unit will be fitted to fleet vehicles by Tracker, with a short training course provided to maximise the benefits of the date they will receive.

Tracker said the units can be easily connected to any vehicles’ existing on-board computers.

Fleet managers will be able to view results through a fleet management website that will display both real-time CO2 and NOx emissions, location, data reporting, driver behaviour and crash reporting.

Tracker said its existing real-time CO2 emissions product has already helped customers save an average of 15% in fuel costs through better driving; it is anticipating the new technology will also reduce NOx emissions by as much as 50% through the same driving guidance.

Imperial College London will assist in the trial by developing and verifying the technology to accurately estimate NOx emissions.

The trial has received funding from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles.

Tracker chief operating officer David Wilson said: “Towns and cities across the UK have dangerous levels of NO2, significantly over legally allowed limits, and increasing urbanisation and congestion are only set to magnify this problem.

“Air.Car will be able to help deliver much needed emissions reduction in a smarter, cheaper and fairer way than some of the alternatives that are being considered.”

Fleets are being recruited from the public and commercial sectors as part of this trial, which will run within London and other UK cities where Clean Air Zones are to be established.

Businesses interested in taking part can register online for the trial, which will commence in December.

Toyota to put hydrogen fuel cell HGV into action at Californian port

Toyota has begun a feasibility study into the usage of fuel cell technology in HGVs.

Dubbed Project Portal, a zero-emission concept truck will hit the roads this summer in California.

The manufacturer said the hydrogen-fuelled semi-trailer will haul cargo between the busy ports of Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach – “quietly, quickly and without producing any tailpipe emissions”.

HGVs create a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the port, and the trial is one of a number of measures in its Clean Air Action Plan to reduce harmful pollutants.

The concept truck has the power and torque capacity to transport cargo between the two ports while emitting nothing but water vapour.

“Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America. “With Project Portal, we are proud to help explore the societal benefits of a zero-emission heavy-duty truck platform.”

The truck generates more than 670hp and 1,796Nm of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery, which Toyota said is a relatively small battery to support heavy-duty operations.

Its gross combined weight capacity is more than 36.2 tonnes (80,000lb) and its estimated driving range is 320km (200 miles) per fill, under normal operation.

“By bringing this heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell proof-of-concept truck to the port, Toyota has planted a flag that we hope many others will follow,” said Mary Nichols, chair at the California Air Resources Board.

She added: “We will be following the progress of this feasibility study with interest, as we look to develop the best mix of regulations and incentives to rapidly expand the market for the cleanest, most efficient big trucks to meet the need for dramatic change in the freight sector.”

Toyota said Project Portal is just one part of its commitment to fuel cell technology and the potential of a ‘hydrogen society’.

It follows the company’s work to expand California’s hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, including a recently announced partnership with Shell to increase the number of hydrogen refuelling stations in the state.

Government urged to take lead in enabling data sharing across transport sector

Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) has urged the government to help facilitate data sharing across the transport sector, or risk hampering innovation.

Fears around cyber security, lack of data skills and a traditional view of transport modes as separate, are restricting the free flow of information, according to a new report from TSC, the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Deloitte.

By overcoming these barriers, TSC said the UK could unlock £14bn of benefits by 2025.

It wants the government to help industry develop a data culture by providing a framework for secure access and guidelines for opening and sharing data. This would be led by a Mobility Data Hub to help the public and private sector work together.

The report shows investment in data could lead to faster journeys, lower emissions, improved regional connections and opportunities for job creation in an emerging technology sector – without the need for large infrastructure building projects.

TSC chief strategy officer Andrew Everett said: “Overcrowding on our rail network, congestion on our roads and the ongoing struggle with pollution and climate change can all be addressed by intelligent solutions, which make use of the opportunities afforded to us by new technologies.

“However, data is the key that unlocks the door to these innovations and, under the current status quo, data accessibility levels will remain inadequate for the UK to benefit fully.

ODI chairman and co-founder Nigel Shadbolt said: “Failure to act on open data will mean poorer quality services, reduced transport connectivity and a lost opportunity for the UK to use Intelligent Mobility as a driver for economic growth and social change.”

Speaking at month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit, TSC principal technologist Andrew Traill told delegates of the role enhanced data sharing could play in boosting innovation in the urban freight sector.

  • TSC is the UK’s technology and innovation centre for intelligent mobility, harnessing emerging technologies to improve the movement of people and goods around the world. It forms part of a network of not-for-profit technology and innovation centres established and overseen by Innovate UK.

Hermes tests self-driving robots for London parcel collections

Hermes is to begin a trial of self-driving delivery robots in London.

The project is an extension to an operation launched last August in Hamburg, Germany, where three robots are deployed to handle parcel deliveries in the suburbs of Ottensen, Volksdorf and Grindel.

Working with robot creator Starship Technologies, Hermes will offer residents and small businesses in the London Borough of Southwark 30-minute parcel collection time slots for items being returned to retailers, or those being sent through myHermes.

The parcel firm said it wants to use the UK trials to understand how the robots could fit into its range of on-demand collection and delivery options.

Hermes said the self-driving delivery robots offer an alternative to drones, especially in highly developed cities, towns and suburbs where strict aviation laws are in operation.

Each vehicle is 55cm by 70cm and incorporates a secured compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg can be transported, accessible to consumers through a link generated by a smartphone app.

They have six wheels, can travel up to 4mph and used within a two-mile radius from a control centre, where the vehicles are loaded and charged.

The aim is for the robots to be 99% autonomous in the future, connected to a human operator via the internet and GPS who would monitor several units at the same time.

Hermes CEO Carole Woodhead said: “Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm. We can already see first-hand the success they’ve had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace.”




Calor to supply BioLPG to European road freight sector

Calor is to bring BioLPG to the European market this summer.

This renewable fuel is chemically identical to regular liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and can be used by any operators’ vehicles without the need for modifications or additives.

Calor said it offers between 15%-32% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – depending on the proportion of waste materials in the BioLPG – without reducing performance (based on a 40% BioLPG and 60% conventional LPG blend).

The BioLPG is approved by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme, and is created from renewable, ethically sourced feedstocks, such as organic plant materials, vegetable oil and animal fats.

Approximately 60% of the fuel is made up from waste and residues, with the remaining 40% from sustainably sourced vegetable oils.

Customers can choose bulk or cylinder supply.

BioLPG specialist at Calor Matthew Lightburn said: “The Renewable Energy Directive is driving a need for businesses to switch to sustainable energy sources to meet a target of 20% of overall consumption by 2020.

“BioLPG meets all the criteria set out in the Directive, leading the LPG market towards a greener and more sustainable future.

He added that the logistics sector was already familiar with the benefits of LPG, such as reduced CO2, NOx and PM.

“Now, with BioLPG, carbon emissions can be reduced even further,” said Lightburn. “We have chosen to offer the fuel to the warehouse, logistics and transport sectors first as we believe they are best placed to take full advantage of the carbon savings and will benefit most from the reduced environmental impact.”

BioLPG from Calor is produced by Neste at a custom-built factory in Rotterdam.

CV Show’s Innovation Hub to focus on road freight sector of the future

The Innovation Hub is set to bring some lively debate on the future of the road transport sector to this month’s CV Show in Birmingham.

These 45-minute workshops will take place every day at the event and focus on three key themes:

  • Fuels – the future thinking in diesel, electric, gas and hydrogen power sources. Is diesel yesterday’s fuel?
  • Autonomy – the big industry issue of the future. What benefits will the connected truck bring to the industry?
  • Logistics – reviewing the freight models of the future. What are the opportunities for data management and collaboration?

They will include expert speakers from Iveco, TRL and Transport Systems Catapult leading the discussion on innovation, followed by facilitated debate with speakers and attendees to explore the future developments and generate feedback from the audience.

The Innovation Hub will be housed in hall 3 and will be free to attend – there’s no need to pre-register, just turn up and take a seat.

Innovation Hub is organised by Motor Transport in conjunction with the CV Show and sponsored by Smart Witness, Guests, TRL and Transport Systems Catapult.

Also at the CV Show this year will be Twitter walls to broadcast visitors’ and exhibitors’ tweets live, if the handles @theCVShow and #CVShow are used.

CV Show director Rob Skelton said: “The new Innovation Hub will be the perfect platform to bring together key figures in the road transport and logistics industries to discuss current issues in an open forum environment, while our Twitter walls are a great way for exhibitors and visitors to share their experiences in an immediate and visible manner and increase their social media presence.”

The CV Show will take place at Birmingham NEC from 25-27 April.

Last-mile autonomous shuttle goes on trial in urban environment

The UK has taken its latest step in developing autonomous last-mile mobility, with the launch  (5 April) of a driverless shuttle trial in an urban environment.

Gateway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) researchers want to learn how the prototype pod reacts alongside people in a natural environment.

The shuttle will navigate a two-kilometre route around the Greenwich Peninsula, using sensors and autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public participating in the study.

It will also explore people’s preconceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle.

Following this passenger-focused trial, the project will explore the potential for driverless pods to carry last-mile urban deliveries.

The Gateway Project is a research programme led by Transport Research Labortatory (TRL) and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for last-mile mobility, seamlessly connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero-emission, low-noise transport system.

Research findings from the project will guide the wider roll out of automated vehicle technology in all forms of surface transport, including cars, lorries and buses.

The prototype shuttle, dubbed ‘Harry’, uses an autonomy software system called Selenium, which enables real-time, robust navigation, planning and perception in dynamic environments.

Whilst the vehicle is designed to operate without a human driver, a safety steward will remain onboard at all times, complying with the UK’s code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

TRL academy director Nick Reed said: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.”


Amsterdam uses operational incentives to encourage electric freight vehicle use in city

The city of Amsterdam is encouraging uptake of electric freight vehicles (EFVs) through operational perks in busy urban areas.

A partner in the Frevue scheme (Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe), Amsterdam has been trialling incentives to boost EFV usage in the city including the use of zero-emission deliveries in its own supply chain.

It has found some of the most effective actions have been operational incentives for freight companies using electric vans and trucks.

Since March 2015, 20 vehicles from seven logistics companies have been granted traffic regulation exemptions based on their own delivery patterns and geographic requirements.

These enable the operators to park in restricted zones, unload directly to the pavement, deliver during time-restricted periods and even enter certain pedestrian areas.

Operators of the EFVs involved in the trial have reported increased driver productivity as a result of the exemptions, including:

  • Shorter walking distance – this saved on average between 15 and 45 minutes per driver, per day.
  • More drops – operators were able to make an extra 4-5 drops per hour compared with diesel vehicles with no exemptions.
  • Loading – average unloading savings were around 4-5 minutes per stop, saving up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Driver stress – as drivers normally have to pay their own fines if unable to find parking, less anxiety from guaranteed parking spots increased productivity, as well as reducing conflict with other road users when seeking a place to stop.

The city’s report said it was pleased with the outcome of the pilot and will work on broadening the scheme to the whole of the city.

It will also be considering feedback from operators involved in the trial as to how to further incentivise the use of EFVs.

These include a call to widen the current delivery time windows in Amsterdam, which are  strict and often only allow a one-hour period for deliveries to be made; use of tram lanes for EFVs to bypass congestion; stricter parking enforcement on other road users parking in loading bays; and a wider scope for traffic exemptions beyond the city centre.

Frevue has produced a free-to-download factsheet with full details of the incentives trialled in Amsterdam.

The Frevue project works with a number of European cities and logistics operators to provide eveidence on the viability of using electric freight vehicles for emission-free urban deliveries.



Web-based HGV aerodynamics simulator aims to reduce fuel costs and lower emissions

A web-based system for simulating the aerodynamic efficiency of HGVs is being developed to help operators reduce fuel usage and fleet emissions.

Part-funded through the DfT’s Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, the aerodynamic configurator for transport (ACT) will enable fleet managers to select the most efficient configuration of truck and trailer for an operation.

It will assess vehicle shapes and combinations for aerodynamic efficiency under a range of real-world conditions and drive cycles.

Leading the project is computational fluid dynamics (CFD) consultancy TotalSim, which will collaborate with fuel-saving analytics firm Dynamon.

TotalSim MD Rob Lewis said: “Using CFD, we can simulate the aerodynamic efficiency of any vehicle – usually to help make racing cars go faster – but in this instance we are interested in increasing fuel efficiency to reduce HGV emissions.”

He added that typically CFD requires “costly computers and software”, and engineers with specialist knowledge, whereas this system will be jargon-free and work with a web browser.

“Transport operators of all technical abilities can try out different configurations quickly and easily in order to deploy the most efficient cabs and trailers,” said Lewis. “This will dramatically reduce journey costs and greenhouse gas emissions alike.”

Combined with telematic data capture, the ACT will help inform route and weather-specific planning decisions to maximise haulage company profit and return on investment (ROI) of each vehicle.

Dynamon CEO Angus Webb said: “TotalSim will identify the best aerodynamics shapes and Dynamon will use fleet telematics data to identify the potential fuel saving and ROI.

“This will both improve investment in aerodynamics by fleets and stimulate innovation from aerodynamics suppliers.”

The DfT has awarded a grant of £392,240 towards the total £560,342 project costs.

Data sharing is key in driving urban logistics innovation, says Transport Systems Catapult

Intelligent use of data is essential for the freight sector to remain competitive in evolving cities, according to Transport Systems Catapult.

Speaking at last week’s Freight in the City Spring Summit, principal technologist Andrew Traill told delegates of the role enhanced data sharing could play in boosting innovation.

He said as cities become ‘places for people’, increasingly pedestrianized with reduced capacity for road vehicles, the freight sector needs to adapt its traditional model to remain viable.

“We shouldn’t be fighting this,” he added, “this is how people want to see the world. But we need to make sure freight isn’t forgotten when these plans are made.”

Traill asked: “How are they going to achieve this separation of freight from people? How are we going to make freight effectively invisible and yet still able to do its job?”

Better use of data will play a huge role, he said, but it is essential for all city stakeholders to be willing to share their own data sets and combine them to drive transport efficiencies.

“Data on its own is fine, but it’s like oil, the real value comes when you refine it and when you manage it. Data is coming from a growing number of sources every day,” he added, “how do we fuse it and bring it together?”

Comprehensive data can be essential in helping drive innovation in urban logistics and provide a clear modelling scenario for new systems to help de-risk investment in new technology, Traill concluded.

Project work at Transport Systems Catapult aims to bridge the gap between R&D and ensuring a product is translated into a market opportunity.

It aims to ensure the UK remains a leader in urban logistics innovation and finds opportunities in an intelligent mobility marketplace estimated to be worth £900bn.

“The more we open up and the more data we share, the better our models will be, with less risk and more opportunity,” said Traill.