Urban CVs and alternative fuels for HGVs the focus in latest Horizon 2020 competition

Urban CV design, improved aerodynamics and alternative-fuelled HGV technology are being encouraged through the latest Horizon 2020 funding competition.

As part of a €550m (£494m) six-stream funding pot, €133m has been earmarked for development of green vehicles.

There are nine vehicle competitions to enter, with a significant focus on the commercial vehicle sector, including:

  • Electrified urban commercial vehicle integration with fast charging infrastructure – to enable medium-sized trucks and buses to operate in a pure electric mode, with charging capabilities to enable them to fulfil their roles in an urban environment without affecting payload or having a negative affect on the power grid;
  • Aerodynamic and flexible trucks;
  • Optimisation of heavy duty vehicles for alternative fuels use.

Further competitions cover areas such as battery cell technology, new electric drive-trains and better modelling of electric vehicles and their components.

All projects applying for funding must be a consortium of at least three organisations, with all bids to be entered by February 2017.

Horizon 2020 is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation. It has a budget of €79bn and will run until 2020.

The Dft announced earlier this month it wanted to remove regulatory barriers in the UK for operators wishing to run alternatively-fuelled commercial vehicles.

  • If you are interested in more sustainable urban freight movements, make sure you attend this year’s Freight in the City Expo taking place on 2 November at London’s Alexandra Palace.


Video briefing explains £24m emission-reduction competition

Anyone interested in entering a £24m competition aimed at developing vehicle technology to reduce real-world tail-pipe emissions can now view a video explaining more.

The competition has been jointly launched by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Innovate UK.

In particular, the government hopes to fund projects that will develop low-cost, integrated systems enabling zero-emission journeys.

Projects must be collaborative, with a business lead to each consortium. They are split into three streams (see below).

Interested parties looking to find project partners are encouraged to get in touch with the Knowledge Transfer Network.

The registration deadline is noon on 19 October, with applications deadline set for noon on 26 October.

The streams

Steam one will find collaborative technical feasibility studies. These should be for disruptive technology that can achieve significant emissions savings from road vehicles.

Projects in this stream are expected to range in size from £200,000 to £500,000 and should last no more than one year.

Stream two will fund collaborative research and development projects. These should focus on attaining a proof of concept for technology that can achieve significant emissions reductions from road vehicles.

OLEV said it is particularly keen to support technologies that provide zero tailpipe emission miles, which should provide a technical and commercial proof of concept.

Projects in this second stream are expected to range in size from £2m to £4m and last between 18 months and three years.

Stream three will fund collaborative research and development projects that can produce results within one year. These should focus on generating significant emissions savings from road vehicles.

In this stream, projects must be ready for a fast delivery within a fixed one-year timeframe and must show rapid progression towards commercial success. Stream three projects are expected to cost £500,000 to £1.5m.

Supermarkets and universities come together to encourage home deliveries

A research project aimed at driving down fuel emissions by encouraging home deliveries has been launched.

Three universities plus Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have combined forces to investigate how the environmental benefits of home deliveries can be improved, with a view to developing a town-scale trial.

Professor David Cebon, director at the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight in Cambridge, said the 18-month project would concentrate on last-mile and grocery deliveries.

Despite an explosion in home deliveries over the last few years, Cebon said take-up among consumers remained relatively small.

He said: “We want to understand how we can get best advantage in terms of reduced fuel consumption and emissions by encouraging home deliveries.

“The obvious point is that shopping trips by family car are inefficient from the point of view of fuel consumption. So, if we can take 15 shopping trips and put them all into a home delivery vehicle, it takes a lot out of the system.”

The project runs until November 2017.

Technology versus direct vision in the quest to eliminate HGV blindspots

Freightinthecity’s sister publication Commercial Motor spoke to industry about the best way to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with vulnerable road users.

Technology to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with cyclists hidden in their vehicles’ blind spots is arguably now the norm, rather than the exception in city fleets. But with numerous mirrors, visual display units (VDUs), audible alarms and additional window panels to scan, is too much expected now of drivers operating in unpredictable urban areas?

How much can technology really help in reducing the risk of collisions between lorries and vulnerable road users, or is the most important place for the driver’s eyes to be on the road at all times?

This is an area TfL is hoping to explore through research it has commissioned with Arup, in partnership with University of Leeds’ Perception, Action Cognition laboratory. It wants to better understand the role of eye contact and direct vision (through windows) over indirect vision (through mirrors and VDUs) in improving road safety and reducing HGV collisions with vulnerable road users and “answer this question empirically”.

“The project aims to determine the effect of visual factors on HGV safety interacting with vulnerable road users,” says Hannah White, freight and fleet project manager at TfL.

“It will provide clarity around whether more direct vision in HGV cabs would result in safer driving and fewer people being killed and injured on London’s roads.”

The research is intended to be used to inform a case for the European Commission to encourage amended regulations on HGV design to provide drivers with greater direct vision.

While last month’s Brexit vote may affect the UK’s input on this matter, the research will still be of significant importance for the road haulage sector when published later this year.

Direct vision is ‘the way forward’

For London-based O’Donovan Waste Disposal, it’s a no-brainer that direct-vision cabs, such as those used on the Mercedes-Benz Econic (pictured) and Dennis Eagle Elite 6, provide drivers with the safest possible tool to prevent collisions with other road users.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan says that the firm’s drivers have reacted positively to the enhanced visibility provided by the company’s two new Econics.

“Direct vision is the way forward for all cabs and is something that I would like to see manufacturers tackle head on, sooner rather than later. It takes too long [several seconds] for a driver to scan all their mirrors and monitors – a lot can happen in that time with London’s roads as busy as they are,” she explains.

O’Donovan adds that while mirrors and cameras have helped drivers on a basic level in the past, they are now outdated and the industry is looking to move road safety up a notch through better design. “Technology is only filling the gap at present. Direct vision needs to be a minimum standard and manufacturers can evolve from there to help drivers and keep vulnerable road users safer,” she says.

Construction haulier Keltbray is another advocate of keeping a driver’s operating environment as simple as possible. “Direct vision is by far the best option when it comes to ensuring a city truck is as safe as possible on the roads,” says head of haulage Terry Good.

The company has recently trialled Scania’s additional low-level, passenger-side window, receiving a thumbs-up from the firm’s drivers.

“While it’s not a full-length window, we find it a great help for our drivers. We are replacing our fleet within 18 months and we are specifying them with the extra glass door,” Good explains.

TfL launched a consultation in January this year under previous mayor Boris Johnson’s regime looking at whether lorries entering London should be required to be retrofitted with additional passenger door windows. The results have yet to be published.

Cameras and screens are a ‘great aid’

Keltbray was also first in line to trial Scania’s new Urban Tipper demonstration vehicle, shown at this year’s Tip-ex show in Harrogate, which features full air suspension, enabling the chassis to be lowered in urban environments to provide better direct vision for drivers.

Good says that when it comes to vulnerable road users protection safety equipment, a nearside camera and screen is also a great aid to drivers as it enables them to see down the entire length of the vehicle.

Keltbray has also been trialling the DawesGuard vulnerable road user protection system on its fleet, which Good says the drivers like as it is simple to operate via the flick of a switch, in addition to the Dawes PeoplePanel that fits over existing under-run bars to reduce risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.

Monitoring all equipment

Technology firm Brigade Electronics fully acknowledges the difficult task drivers have in monitoring all their mirrors and equipment in busy cities.

“Even when manoeuvring at low speed, a vehicle can travel a long way in the time it takes for a driver to check each potential hazard area in turn before returning his eyes back to the road ahead,” explains business development manager James Ashford.

“The vehicle can travel even further while the driver assesses the potential risks in these areas and reacts accordingly.”

To tackle this challenge, Brigade developed its Backeye 360 system. It eliminates blind spots by producing an all-round view of the entire vehicle in one image. “This saves the driver or operator from having to process information from several mirrors or monitors in quick succession, making it easier to spot and assess possible hazards,” he adds.

View from the frontline

Freightinthecity asked professional drivers’ forum Trucknet whether in-cab technology was a blessing or a blight, and how city operations had changed over the past 10 years. Here are some responses:

  • Glancing at a blind spot camera is no more distracting than glancing in a mirror (and a lot more helpful and useful than a mirror if on a left hooker for instance). Checking a sat-nav is a lot less distracting than reading an A-to-Z while driving, and the sat-nav audible warning is no more or less distracting than a radio. It all depends on the individual driver and how he copes with his own personal perceived level of distraction.
  • Modern vehicles (usually) have at least six mirrors, often, a Fresnel Lens, cameras… the list goes on. But – and it’s a big but – drivers still only have two eyes and two ears. I fully appreciate that this oversight is all our fault [lorry drivers], but c’est la vie.
  • It was definitely easier 10 years ago. Most people doing town centre deliveries had FM and P cabs – nice and low etc. Now the trend seems to be bigger trucks with worse vision. I think the cameras are a welcome addition and not much of a distraction.
  • We’ve already got six mirrors, two side windows and a windscreen to look at/through – how many more cameras/monitors do we need? It doesn’t matter how you design a vehicle, you will still get people trying to sneak up the inside, outside, front and rear. Bring back cycling proficiency lessons in schools.
  • A rearward-facing camera is dynamite – it’s on permanently and is not a distraction at all. You can keep the audible warnings and blinking lights, however, as they are a distraction.
  • New mirror designs have created their own blind spots. When approaching a roundabout, it is now possible for a car approaching the same roundabout from the right to be hidden from view by the mirror.


Government announces details of £24m low-emission freight vehicle competition

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK is opening up a £24m funding pot for industry-led research trials and the development of low-emission vehicles or on-vehicle systems.

These projects must reduce emissions in the freight, logistics, utilities and emergency industries.

HGVs and vans contribute 31% of the UK’s domestic transport greenhouse gas emissions and the government said better uptake of low-emission vehicles to UK fleets can help the UK meet its CO2 reduction targets, as well as improving air quality.

The funding competition is run in two streams:

  • Part 1 will fund projects that trial vehicles and on-vehicle technology. The aim is to test the benefits of the technology before commercialisation
  • Part 2 will fund projects that develop innovative and disruptive on-vehicle technologies, systems or business models. These must reduce emissions in the real world.

Businesses can bid for funding now, with the registration deadline on 12 October and application deadline on 19 October.

A briefing event for potential applicants will take place in Solihull on 14 July 2016.

The government said it expects all projects to be collaborative and involve a vehicle operator, with costs ranging from £250,000 up to £5m.

Industry recently heard how the UK’s exit from the European Union would not affect its drive towards cleaner technology.

Sainsbury’s trialling Dearman’s liquid-nitrogen-powered cooling unit

Sainsbury’s has become the first operator to use a liquid-nitrogen-powered cooling technology in one of its refrigerated trucks to reduce emissions.

The three-month trial will see the supermarket test a new concept in refrigeration units, designed by clean cold technology firm Dearman, which harnesses the rapid expansion of liquid nitrogen to deliver zero-emission power and cooling.

Dearman expects the trial to save up to 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 37kg of nitrogen oxides and 2kg of particulate matter by its end, compared with a similar diesel-powered cooling system fitted to a truck.

Sainsbury's-Infographic-(3)The vehicle is operating from Sainsbury’s Waltham Point depot, delivering chilled goods to stores in the London area.

Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury’s, said the business had set itself a target of cutting carbon emissions by 30% between 2005 and 2020.

“This trial with Dearman is just one of the innovations we’ve introduced to help us towards this goal,” he added. “This zero-emission system is really exciting – to be running a liquid air engine, quite literally, means our cooling is running on thin air.”

Dearman’s founder and CEO, Toby Peters, said: “Sainsbury’s is demonstrating real leadership by embracing cutting-edge British engineering that delivers performance alongside positive environmental impact.”

He added that the first commercial trial of Dearman’s zero-emission system was a significant milestone for the company.

“Demand for cooling is increasing worldwide and new technologies are urgently needed to ensure that growth can be achieved sustainably,” he said.

Dearman has worked alongside partners Hubbard Products, Air Products and Dawsonrentals to get the system ready for commercial trials, with the latter recently providing one of its rental fleet to be fitted out with the new cooling system.

The company is working on a range of applications for the new technology from its Croydon, Surrey research and development centre.

Europe to boost hydrogen refuelling network and vehicle fleet

The second iteration of a Europe-wide project to improve hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and boost uptake of fuel cell electric vehicles, both passenger and commercial, has begun.

The six-year H2ME 2 scheme is backed by 37 partners, including Daimler, Renault Trucks and the University of Manchester. It is looking to bring 1,230 fuel cell vehicles into operation, as well as construct 20 hydrogen-refuelling stations and test the ability of electrolyser refuelling hubs to help balance the electrical grid.

It follows last year’s H2ME 1 scheme that combined four, previously separate, hydrogen adoption initiatives from across Europe.

The €100m scheme will also evaluate the technical and commercial readiness of vehicles, fuelling stations and hydrogen production techniques and establish where further investment is required.

Ben Madden, director, Element Energy and project coordinator, said: “Hydrogen Mobility Europe will demonstrate the use of hydrogen in the hands of a wide range of vehicle drivers from across Europe, all of whom value the long range, low carbon and low-emission driving offered by the technology.

“Understanding these customers will allow the sector to plan for the accelerated deployment of this important technology, “ he added.

Fabio Ferrari, coordinator of the French consortium taking part in the project and CEO of Symbio FCell, said that new French hydrogen refuelling stations are currently planned for Bordeaux, Nancy, Nantes and Paris.

“The project will result in a large deployment of utility vehicle fleets. These fleets are made up of light vans, small trucks, as well as a taxi fleet of 60 full fuel-cell powered vehicles in the Greater Paris Area,” Ferrari added.

EC study wants commercial fleet operators’ views on CNG-fuelled vehicles

A European Commission study is seeking the views of commercial fleet operators on CNG-fuelled vehicles to help inform the future roll-out of refuelling infrastructure.

Headed up by Transport and Travel Research (TTR), the study wants to explore reasons why the UK is lagging behind other EU countries in the adoption of natural gas as an alternative fuel for HGVs.

The study forms part of a wider project being carried out by CNG Fuels into how rapid gas adoption rates have been closely linked to the provision of infrastructure “beyond critical mass level”.

CNG Fuels recently opened a high-pressure gas grid connected CNG refuelling station in Leyland.

Andy Parkinson, senior consultant, TTR, said: “The initial element of the project is looking at attitudes to CNG and refuelling infrastructure and we are looking to gain as many views as possible from the fleet industry.  The survey should take less than five minutes to complete and is limited to just 13 short questions.”

Operators are invited to fill in the survey online, with any queries directed to andy.parkinson@ttr-ltd.com



Cenex invites low-carbon seminar ideas for LCV 2016

Cenex has invited organisations to submit seminar ideas for presentation at LCV 2016 in September.

The annual low-carbon vehicle event’s seminar programme has been designed to highlight the latest  technology and results from research projects.

It will also look at the future direction that innovation might take across the sector.

Robert Evans, CEO of Cenex, said:“Every year it is our aim to generate a highly topical and comprehensive seminar programme.

“By extending the invitation to present, we are hopeful that LCV2016 will bring together some of the best minds in the industry, to educate, inform and engage with the LCV community.”

The following seminar themes will be incorporated:

  • Low-Carbon Propulsion Technologies
  • Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicles: Policy and Market Trends
  • Vehicle Light-Weighting and Aerodynamics
  • The Automotive Council and UK Capabilities Development
  • Grants for Research and Development
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
  • Digital Engineering, Modelling and Simulation
  • Design Engineering, Test and Validation
  • Advanced Materials
  • Automotive Electronics (New to LCV2016)
  • High Value Manufacturing (New to LCV2016)
  • Energy for Transport: Alternative Fuels and Energy Infrastructure
  • Low Carbon Buses
  • Low Carbon Commercial Vehicles
  • Air Quality and Low Carbon Innovation

To submit an Expression of Interest form to present at LCV2016, taking place from 14-15 September at Millbrook in Bedfordshire,  visit www.cenex-lcv.co.uk. The deadline for ideas is 27 May.


Research to explore barriers preventing widescale uptake of low-emission CVs

Element Energy has been commissioned by TfL to explore the barriers preventing operators from wider take-up of low-emission commercial vehicles.

The research will help shape TfL’s LoCITY programme, launched in January, which aims to stimulate the uptake of cleaner commercial vehicles across the capital.

As part of the research, Element Energy is seeking interviews with commercial fleet operators, infrastructure providers and vehicle manufacturers to discuss experiences of low-emission vehicle technologies to date and the factors that present limitations for further adoption of these vehicles.

Interviews will be either in person or by telephone, and will last no longer than an hour.

The research will help to:

  • Understand the constraints and barriers affecting fleet and freight operators, vehicle manufacturers and refuelling/recharging infrastructure providers;
  • Derive the siting opportunities for refuelling/recharging infrastructure, both in depot and public, en route solutions;
  • Provide clear and actionable recommendations to accelerate the uptake of low-emission commercial vehicles.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Celine Cluzel (Project Manager) on 0330 119 0984 or by emailing celine.cluzel@element-energy.co.uk.