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Road safety, environmental protection and mobility: Renault Trucks innovates at the Carrefour du Prédit

The Carrefour du Prédit, a national research, experimentation and innovation programme on terrestrial transport, whose 3rd edition focuses on goods transport, was held at the Palais des Congrès, Paris from May 5th to 7th 2008. It was an opportunity for Renault Trucks to present the results of its research in the areas of road safety, environmental protection and mobility.

Renault Trucks, one Europe’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers, deploys substantial resources to design increasingly productive vehicles which are safer and more respectful of the environment. It made sense, then, for Renault Trucks to take part in Prédit, a national research experimentation and innovation programme launched jointly by the Ministries of Research, Transport, Ecology and Industry. The third edition which began in 2002 focuses on environmental and energy issues, goods transport and road safety.

For Renault Trucks, these issues are all the more important since road transport, which represents 80% of goods transport in France, is the only existing alternative to cover those last few kilometres. As part of the Prédit programme, Renault Trucks’ contribution to the development of merchandise transport, particularly in urban areas, is reflected in eight research projects. The objective is to develop the truck of the future which effectively meets the requirements of goods transport while respecting the society’s expectations in terms of sustainable development, energy consumption, congestion and safety.

For example, the FUN programme (Full aUthority eNgine), is developing a clean, economical engine as part of post Euro5 emissions standards. Renault Trucks’ engineers have therefore explored the mechanisms of combustion with high-pressure injection and fill control within the engine through variable valve control (without cam shaft): the result was a 1% gain in consumption and a 40 to 95% reduction in particle emissions, depending on the type of combustion.

Continuing in the field of less polluting engines, four other projects have been presented by Renault Trucks:

• MOGAVI: which resulted in the development of a new operating concept for a natural gas engine for all types of commercial vehicles. Initially testing involved 170 buses throughout Europe, and over 7 million km have already been covered. Particle emission levels are less than 0.006g/kwh:
• TOM (2-mode engine): an engine with two combustion formats depending on the vehicle load, substantially reducing NOx emissions;
• VITEL, a pre-project for a controlled ignition hybrid engine to reduce the vehicle’s gaseous and noise emissions;
• CLEAN EXHAUST: to develop a combination of SCR (selective catalytic reduction) de-pollution systems set up to switch to the Euro4 standard and a particle filter, two Renault Trucks vehicles have been adapted to this technology and are currently being tested in Switzerland.

The LUT project (Low-noise Urban Truck) has reduced noise and pollution through operation in an urban environment. The demo vehicle developed has produced some encouraging results: with 3 fewer dB(A), obtained by encapsulating the engine block, assistance in silent driving and innovatory-sculpted Michelin tyres, the vehicle is half as noisy as traditional vehicles. The work carried out as part of this project has also been used in the European Fideus programme which has led to the demo vehicle being tested under real operating conditions by road haulage operators.

The optimisation of transport, improved safety, the reduction of pollution and space savings are the objectives of the IVF programme (Interactive Vehicle of the Future). The resources engaged to achieve these objectives include the networking of data on vehicles, infrastructure, traffic and the weather and distances and speeds of other vehicles. The IVF system, which comprises an operational demo vehicle developed on the basis of a Premium Long Distance and a control tower has allowed testing on the efficiency of a remote assistance system to respect speed limits and distance between vehicles which are compulsory on certain types of roads (tunnels and bridges, etc…). With this system, merchandise transport is managed in a safe and efficient way, even in the most sensitive situations.

On the road safety side, Renault Trucks has focused its research effort on the protection of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users (VRUs) through the VIVRE 2 project. The objective is to substantially reduce the number and seriousness of accidents involving commercial vehicles and VRUs. After in-depth accidentology research in particular through the re-enactment of risk situations, Renault Trucks has identified several solutions to assist the driver in the detection of VRUs and help him to react appropriately and adapt the speed of his vehicle. A prototype is currently under development and will be tested on a driving simulator.

The variety of projects undertaken and the results obtained by Renault Trucks are a clear indicator of the advantages of collaboration between public authorities and private enterprise within programmes such as Prédit. The emergence of new mobility solutions which benefit both users of commercial vehicles and citizens is to be applauded, and encourages Renault Trucks in its desire to innovate further still.

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