Electronics Help Cut Costs of Hydraulic Hybrid Trucks: Page 2 of 2

Engineers aim to take hydraulic hybrid powertrains beyond niche status in medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

system, in conjunction with LabView software, gave designers more I/O, more bandwidth, more memory, and the ability to put it all on a printed circuit board about the size of a credit card.


An advanced controller -- CompactRIO System on Module from National Instruments – added a new dimension to hydraulic hybrid technology and helped cut costs. (Source: National Instruments)


“It would have been easier to control a variable displacement pump, but it would have been way more expensive and a lot heavier,” Reynolds told us. “Doing it this way, we’re able to control a fixed displacement pump like a variable displacement pump.”

The resulting design was a winner of a National Instruments 2017 Engineering Impact Award in the Transportation and Heavy Equipment category. It’s currently being employed on 50 United Parcel Service box trucks in the Chicago area.

Reeser said the use of advanced electronic control gave the technology numerous benefits over predecessors from the 1990s. “Hydraulic hybrids in the early days were choppy, lumpy and noisy,” he said. “By leveraging the faster I/O and hardware, we’re smooth, quiet, and seamless to the driver.”

Although the company doesn’t expect the technology to make in-roads in autos, it has high hopes for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Within five years, company executives want to outfit 10,000 vehicles per year. “We don’t see this as a niche product,” Reeser said. “We’re solving a significant pollution issue and cost reduction issue. We want to scale up and make this an impact product.”

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

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