Electrified trailer axle opens up autonomous operation

Electrified trailer axle opens up autonomous operation

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The dual motor axle can be used to generate electricity during braking, and feed it into the trailer’s power units. In the case of a refrigerated trailer, the saving can be as much as €10,000 a year. If the cooling unit is operated using the power generated in this way, Bosch calculates that it can save up to 9,000 litres of diesel a year. An electrical start and acceleration boost function can help save additional fuel. The electric cooling units make significantly less noise than diesel-powered ones so that deliveries can thus be made early in the morning or late in the evening.

Bosch is supplying an inverter and the relevant vehicle control unit (VCU), and a separate motor generator (SMG) is available for installation as a complete electric motor, or the active components – rotor, stator, and resolver – can be integrated into the axle.

This is also an important step toward automated trailer parking on logistics companies’ parking lots. Adding a powertrain to the axle means that the trailer can be moved around without the truck.

“Bosch is making trucks’ rear axles electric and smart. Our electrification solution for trucks makes economic sense and shows how electromobility can work even in today’s trucks,” said Dr Markus Heyn, member of the Robert Bosch board of management. 

The key is that this can be used for both new trailers and as a retrofit. In Europe there are 250,000 trailers with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10 metric tons registered every year. One in five of these is equipped with a refrigeration unit.

Bosch is using parts from passenger cars for the axle. For example, the SMG180 electric motor already features in hundreds of thousands of hybrid and electric cars worldwide, including the German postal service´s StreetScooters. As the electric motors are inactive most of the time, recuperating energy or providing assistance when starting or on ascents for only a few seconds or minutes every hour, significantly less expensive production parts from passenger cars can be used. The motors are still powerful enough to move the trailer or to provide start assistance to construction vehicles.Unlike in electric cars, the motors in the electrified axle work only intermittently, starting only if they can recuperate energy.

“Bosch’s electrified axle makes trailers independent. By electrifying trailers, Bosch is taking an important step toward automated parking at freight depots,”  said Heyn. They also allow remote-controlled electric driving on private property such as freight companies’ premises or at ports. With additional sensors attached to the trailer and installed at various points in the depot, it will be possible for goods trailers to park themselves.


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