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September 12, 2021 8:00 PM, EDT

TMC’s Research Agenda Includes Fuel Economy, Braking Systems

TMC's Jack LeglerTechnical Director Jack Legler says TMC is looking for funding and equipment donations for the projects. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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CLEVELAND — American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council on Sept. 12 announced plans for two upcoming research projects.

The first project will aim to evaluate the effects of total combination vehicle alignment on fuel economy, while the second will involve developing criteria to conduct performance demonstrations of at least two prototype electro-mechanical braking systems.

TMC Technical Director Jack Legler made the announcement during a press conference at the council’s Fall Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition. These projects were targeted through TMC’s agreement with FPInnovations PIT Group, which tests technologies and evaluates their energy efficiency. The engineering group aims to help manufacturers and fleet executives select technologies that reduce costs and environmental impacts.

The project related to electro-mechanical brakes will assess if these prototype systems perform in conformity with current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for air drum or disc braking systems. Specifically, TMC’s Future Truck Committee is working on this project.

“There’s a lot of potential advantages from electronically controlled braking systems, and electro-mechanical braking systems go an additional step by getting rid of the air pulse,” Legler said during the conference.

The combination vehicle alignment project will replicate testing protocols from an earlier study conducted by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Specifically, the project will examine the connection between misalignments in tractor-trailer combinations and aerodynamic devices.

Legler mentioned TMC is seeking funding to cover the costs of these projects. The council is also looking for equipment donations for the project on electro-mechanical braking systems.

Robert Braswell

Robert Braswell by Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics

Also during the session, TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell provided an update on Tech-Celerate Now activities. Tech-Celerate Now is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s program meant to accelerate the adoption of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Initiated in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO), the program’s team includes the American Transportation Research Institute, ATA, TMC, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation and the technical organization Noblis.

The purpose of Tech-Celerate Now is to promote the benefits of driver-assistance technologies, such as automatic emergency braking systems, and measure the impact of the outreach campaign in terms of ADAS adoption rates and truck crash reduction.

Over the last year, Tech-Celerate Now has developed videos and brochures to offer information about ADAS, covering subjects such as safety and return on investment. The four ADAS videos contain subject matter such as braking, warning, steering and monitoring systems. These technologies have the potential to reduce or prevent crashes involving heavy vehicles.

“The ADAS technology will substantially reduce the number of these crashes in a number of different ways,” Braswell said.

In addition to saving lives, ADAS has the ability to help fleets save money. Crashes are expensive, resulting in costs associated with vehicle and cargo damage, injuries and increased insurance premiums. Although ADAS requires some investment, it can detect risky driving behaviors, prevent collisions and reduce crash severity and lower operating costs.

Braswell said the Tech-Celerate Now team is also developing a return on investment calculator, through which a fleet representative can plug numbers in and get a sense of what savings can be achieved.

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