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Peterbilt reviews recent technical developments during media event

Aug. 5, 2015
SOME of the latest technology developments were front and center during Peterbilt’s recent Technology Showcase media event that was held at the truck manufacturer’s Denton, Texas headquarters and at the nearby Texas Motor Speedway. Trucks spotlighted during the event included the Model 579 EPIQ and two tractors with Peterbilt’s Advanced Driver Assist system, which qualifies them as Level 3 autonomous vehicles under the National Transportation Safety Administration’s program.

SOME of the latest technology developments were front and center during Peterbilt’s recent Technology Showcase media event that was held at the truck manufacturer’s Denton, Texas headquarters and at the nearby Texas Motor Speedway.

Trucks spotlighted during the event included the Model 579 EPIQ and two tractors with Peterbilt’s Advanced Driver Assist system, which qualifies them as Level 3 autonomous vehicles under the National Transportation Safety Administration’s program.

“We’re the most competitive we’ve ever been with on-highway fleets, said Robert Woodall, Peterbilt assistant general manager, sales & marketing. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in the Model 579 EPIQ package, and many of our fleet customers are selecting that model. They are finding a quick payback with it, and the 14% fuel economy improvement is a big attraction.”

Darrin Siver, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice-president, added: “The Model 579 EPIQ is revolutionizing the industry with its aerodynamic efficiency, optimized powertrain, and innovative fuel-saving technologies. Since introducing the EPIQ fuel economy package last year, we’ve been successful in engineering even more miles per gallon through precise aerodynamic refinements.”

A trucking magazine editor takes a Peterbilt Model 579 EPIQ for a spin on the track at the Texas Motor Speedway during Peterbilt’s recent Technology Showcase event. In the background is one of two autonomous tractors that were demonstrated at the event.

In developing the Model 579 EPIQ, Peterbilt engineers incorporated design elements from the SuperTruck, which achieved 10.7 miles per gallon after extensive field testing, to reach the 14% gain possible with the new 579 EPIQ. EPIQ includes APEX, an optimized drivetrain that pairs the PACCAR MX-13 engine with the Fuller Advantage automated transmission.

The Model 579 EPIQ includes num-erous aerodynamic enhancements that were developed through CFD (computational fluid dynamics), wind tunnel testing, and thousands of miles of on-the-road validation, according to Scott Newhouse, Peterbilt chief engineer.

Among the newest elements of EPIQ are:

•  A roof fairing bridge that reduces the gap between truck and trailer;

•  Enhanced chassis fairings that minimize the opening in front of the tandem axle;

•  Rubber wheel closeouts on the front axle;

•  A durable bumper dam that reduces aerodynamic lift and drag; and

•  A bumper-to-hood seal that redirects air around the truck.

Other fairings included in EPIQ are 18-inch sleeper side extenders with 8-inch rubber flares; rubber skirting along the chassis fairing from the quarter fender to the front of the tandem axle with rubber closeouts under the sides of the cab and sleeper; and roof fairings with an exclusive rear wall closeout. Aerodynamically enhanced components include a three-piece aero-style bumper; multi-piece aero-style hood; painted outside sun visor; and an aero-style aluminum battery box positioned on the passenger side, under the cab.

Autonomous truck

On the autonomous truck side, Peterbilt combined a variety of technologies in its Advanced Driver Assist system. Components include radar-based adaptive cruise control that automatically accelerates and decelerates to maintain safe following distances and lane-departure type cameras to keep the truck on track on the highway.

The system also has high-precision GPS mapping capability to enable the truck to maintain a pre-programmed route. That made it possible for the two demonstration test trucks to negotiate the inside road track at the Texas Motor Speedway. Peterbilt executives claim the GPS system is accurate within five centimeters.

The system performed well at the race track, but Peterbilt officials acknowledge that a lot of testing is still ahead. A production system is still quite a ways off.

Remote diagnostics

Newhouse also reviewed the new SmartLINQ remote diagnostics system that is now available on all new Peterbilt trucks spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13 engine. SmartLINQ will be expanded to other truck systems and platforms in the months ahead.

When a diagnostic code is generated by the engine or aftertreatment system, it is analyzed and automatically communicated to the customer (as well as any Peterbilt dealerships the customer may assign to receive the notifications as well).

“When a diagnostic code is generated, the severity of the code is analyzed. There are three general areas the diagnostic codes will fall into: service advised; service immediately; and stop engine,” Newhouse said. “Diagnostic code notifications will be sent via e-mail to whomever the customer designates with all of the information a fleet manager needs to get a vehicle serviced quickly to maximize uptime. Or, in the event of more severe service issues, make arrangements to get a load hauled by another truck to keep deliveries on-time.”

Initially the system is monitoring approximately 800 diagnostic codes. E-mail notifications include:

•  Vehicle information

•  Diagnostic code and description

•  Additional information such as if an engine derate is required

•  Possible causes, including which items may be corrected by the operator

•  Locations of the three nearest Peterbilt dealerships

•  Recommended action

All vehicles equipped with SmartLINQ can also monitored in real time through a web-based portal customized for the customer. The at-a-glance interface includes a map of North America with each unit represented by an icon color coded to vehicle health: green for no events; yellow for diagnostic codes that need attention soon; and red for diagnostic code events that require immediate action. There are also icons to indicate related information, such as Peterbilt dealer locations.

SmartLINQ-equipped trucks include a dedicated modem, antenna, access to the portal and the complimentary, two-year subscription. Additionally, SmartLINQ is compatible with any telematics system. SmartLINQ utilizes new in-cab diagnostic technology with expanded functionality that communicates diagnostic information through the in-dash driver information center.

Predictive cruise

Peterbilt took another technology step with its new Predictive Cruise product that automatically optimizes engine and transmission operation when in cruise control for maximum fuel economy. “By integrating the powertrain, cruise control and satellite mapping, the vehicle automatically responds to the road ahead for up to three percent improved fuel economy,” Siver says.

Predictive Cruise includes the neutral coasting feature. Neutral coasting utilizes the truck’s momentum to save fuel and engages the engine brake to manage downhill speeds. Newhouse explained that Predictive Cruise and neutral coast work together to maximize the truck’s kinetic energy:

1.  When approaching a hill, the system uses onboard maps and GPS data to select the optimal gear for the increasing road grade;

2.  Before the peak of the incline, the vehicle curbs its speed before proceeding downhill;

3.  Neutral coast engages as the truck rolls downhill;

4.  If necessary, the engine brake engages to avoid over speeding; and

5.  Cruising speed is maintained as the vehicle continues onto level terrain.

SmartNav system

Finally, Peterbilt officials reviewed the next generation of its in-dash SmartNav infotainment system that features an expanded array of virtual gauges, auto-activated safety cameras, improved hands-free calling and the capability to provide real-time traffic and fuel price information.

Operators engage SmartNav through its touch-sensitive, full-color, seven-inch display. Drivers can also interact with the new system through improved voice-recognition capabilities for hands-free calling. Other enhancements include:

•  Nearly double the available virtual gauges, for a total of 30, including all vocational gauges;

•  Expanded satellite radio content with both Sirius and XM channels;

•  Automatic activation of optional safety cameras when the vehicle is put into reverse or turn signals are on; and

•  Real-time traffic updates and fuel pricing through an optional subscription service.

“One of the key improvements to the new SmartNav system is its ability to be customized with approved applications developed by Peterbilt, PACCAR, or third parties,” Newhouse said. “SmartNav’s new flexible architecture allows it to be updated quickly with additional features and capabilities. Additionally, it is telematics enabled to communicate with systems such as electronic logbooks and other fleet management platforms.”

SmartNav will continue to provide:

•  Truck specific navigation;

•  Vehicle operational and diagnostic information;

•  Bluetooth connectivity and pairing with Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as controls for using certain devices;

•  USB input for auxiliary audio devices; and

•  Complete integration with the vehicle’s cab and sleeper sound system.

SmartNav is standard with Peterbilt’s platinum-level interiors and is optional for all medium- and heavy-duty conventional models.   ♦

About the Author

Charles Wilson

Charles E. Wilson has spent 20 years covering the tank truck, tank container, and storage terminal industries throughout North, South, and Central America. He has been editor of Bulk Transporter since 1989. Prior to that, Wilson was managing editor of Bulk Transporter and Refrigerated Transporter and associate editor of Trailer/Body Builders. Before joining the three publications in Houston TX, he wrote for various food industry trade publications in other parts of the country. Wilson has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and served three years in the U.S. Army.