Automotive

Siemens tests "eHighway of the Future" vision with tram-like overhead cables

Siemens tests "eHighway of the...
Siemens is currently testing its eHighway of the Future concept in Germany - where commercial vehicles retro-fitted with a diesel/electric power train receive electric power from overhead cables via a new pantograph system
Siemens is currently testing its eHighway of the Future concept in Germany - where commercial vehicles retro-fitted with a diesel/electric power train receive electric power from overhead cables via a new pantograph system
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Siemens is currently testing its eHighway of the Future concept in Germany - where commercial vehicles retro-fitted with a diesel/electric power train receive electric power from overhead cables via a new pantograph system
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Siemens is currently testing its eHighway of the Future concept in Germany - where commercial vehicles retro-fitted with a diesel/electric power train receive electric power from overhead cables via a new pantograph system
Heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with a brand new pantograph system with an intelligent control system that can either automatically connect to an overhead wire
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Heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with a brand new pantograph system with an intelligent control system that can either automatically connect to an overhead wire
Installed above the driver's cabin, the system is said to detect the relative position of the overhead contact wire to the pantograph and counterbalances any lateral movements of the truck via active horizontal adjustment
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Installed above the driver's cabin, the system is said to detect the relative position of the overhead contact wire to the pantograph and counterbalances any lateral movements of the truck via active horizontal adjustment
Based on proven railway and tram technology, Siemens has developed a new pantograph that can automatically raise to meet overhead cables and transfer electric power to hybrid diesel/electric power trains
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Based on proven railway and tram technology, Siemens has developed a new pantograph that can automatically raise to meet overhead cables and transfer electric power to hybrid diesel/electric power trains
The pantograph can be controlled automatically or by the driver
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The pantograph can be controlled automatically or by the driver
When traveling under eHighway electric power, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor only
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When traveling under eHighway electric power, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor only
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With most major auto manufacturers now actively developing electric vehicles, the drive towards a zero emission personal electric transportation future seems very much on the horizon. Road pollution doesn't just come from cars of course, freight vehicles are also major players in choking our highways and byways. Siemens is currently testing a possible solution in Germany that's based on proven railway and tram technology but has been adapted for trucks on roads. Heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with a newly-developed pantograph that can automatically raise to meet overhead cables and transfer electric power to hybrid diesel/electric power trains. Energy recovered from regenerative braking can also be fed back into the system for re-use by other vehicles.

The Siemens eHighway concept announced at the 26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles recently is a two part system. The first involves the rollout of a two pole catenary system along one or more lanes on freight transport routes that caters for two-way electricity transmission and ensures a reliable power supply by feeding the overhead wire via container substations. The substations used in the current test project feature a medium-voltage DC switching system, a power transformer, a rectifier 12-diode array and a controlled inverter (for the feedback of the electric energy generated by regenerative braking).

When traveling under eHighway electric power, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor only
When traveling under eHighway electric power, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor only

Heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with a brand new pantograph - the second part of the concept - with an intelligent control system that can either automatically connect to an overhead wire upon detection by a built-in scanner or be manually controlled by the driver. Installed above the driver's cabin, the system is said to be capable of detecting the relative position of the overhead contact wire to the pantograph and counterbalances any lateral movements of the truck via active horizontal adjustment.

The test vehicles have also been retro-fitted with diesel-electric power trains, where they are always powered by an efficient electric motor but when in diesel mode, the vehicle's engine powers a generator, which in turn drives a downstream motor and turns the cardan shaft. When traveling under eHighway electric power, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor only. Siemens says that the driver is not aware of the transitions between different drive modes.

The field trial in Germany is reported to have confirmed full performance potential, independent of weather, conditions and load. The concept proved to be at least as flexible as existing fuel-based road freight transport solutions thanks to the maneuverability of the mobile pantographs, with reduction in carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, soot and noise pollution and added fuel efficiency benefits. Keeping up with the flow of traffic doesn't appear to have been a problem either, with speeds of up to 90 km/h (55 mph) being reached without difficulty under direct transmission of electric power.

The pantograph can be controlled automatically or by the driver
The pantograph can be controlled automatically or by the driver

Moving beyond the proof of concept test phase, schemes for the electrification of ports and cargo centers are already being considered but the solution has great potential for expansion to inner city roads in much the same way as streetcars/trams, and of course onto major transport routes. Naturally, such an infrastructure could also readily support the electric power needs of pure battery electrics, vehicles with range extenders, or those fitted out for compressed natural gas.

Source: Siemens

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25 comments
25 comments
railwaymen
I guess it's one of the solutions, but I don't think it should be the only one. What if there's a malfunction? Everything will just stop? Maybe they should create extra lanes for electric transportation. I don't know.
Vinni Vince
I love the idea. What I wonder is, is there not a better alternative than overhead cables? With overhead cables only large vehicles can benefit, and really large vehicles like special transports cannot pass at all. If it was on the side or even better on the ground, private vehicles could use it too and recharge their batteries on the fly.
Mark A
What an attractive solution.
Panayis Zambellis
because it is an intelligent pantograph and the vehicles will be hybrid they can overtake normally and the driver will be unaware of the diesel electric transition during overtaking manoeuvres
tmhart
I guess what's old is new again. Los Angeles used to be at the forefront of public transportation technology, hard to believe as that may be. In the 1920's there was a "trackless electric trolley" that ran up Laurel Canyon to Bungalow Land. Sort of a dreamy utopian world in LA in the 20's that I wish I could have seen... quite different from today's LA. You can see photos at the link below. The project failed because the roads weren't yet paved (!) and because the systems weren't efficient enough to make the system worthwhile. http://www.erha.org/laurelcyn.html
Alex Stelling
@Railwaymen, I suppose that the trucks retain their conventional powertrains and can use them if the electricity is down, but save on diesel costs 99.9% when it is working. They would have to retain diesel engines to deliver goods beyond the coverage of the electric infrastructure. I would like to see wireless electricity through the roads, but that technology is probably a long way off.
tmhart
correction, that trackless trolley in LA was 1910 - 1912. 100 years ago! Amazing.
Warhead
And as always, everyone knows that electric cars are NOT really zero-emission... they should be called "remote emission". Most often, the electricity is generated by a coal plant hundreds of miles away, which creates more pollution than modern gas-powered cars. If the electricity is generated by hydroelectric or nuclear power, then the atmospheric emissions are reduced, but you end up destroying habitats or making nuclear waste. Solar still isn't economical and has a huge carbon footprint just to create the solar cells. Wind or tidal power are probably as close as we can get, but there aren't enough of either type of generators to meet current demands.
frogola
i think i like the trolley better,i mean 10 cents for a cab. if they could just get it down to one whip antenna type conductor.
MRing
This has inspired me to a new idea. Rather than spending all that time and effort building a cable system like this one, why not use a tesla style system for wireless power transmission? Just over highways... You could retrofit streetlights to step up current to a high potential, broadcast it, and have that current picked up by vehicles..... Just thinkin
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