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Today’s Pickup: Volvo begins California test of connected vehicle technology

Volvo VNL equipped with prototype Eco-Drive technology during testing near the San Pedro Bay ports in Southern California. ( Photo: Volvo Group )

Good day,

Many believe improving vehicle-to-infrastructure technology will help reduce congestion and improve fuel economy of vehicles. Volvo Group put that to a test in conjunction with the state of California along two connected corridors in Carson.

The company used two Volvo VNL tractors with prototype Eco-Drive technology that integrated with traffic signals along the route. The technology collects light change data and vehicle speed information to provide a real-time speed recommendation to the driver, helping reduce harsh driving maneuvers and late braking.

The project, led by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, is funded by the California Climate Investments program to reduce key criteria pollutants, greenhouse gases (GHGs) and petroleum usage and used Volvo tractors involved in its Zero Emission Drayage Truck Demonstration project.

 “We are honored to engage such important and diverse stakeholders to evaluate technologies that have the potential to reduce emissions and traffic noise, while making our commutes safer, less stressful, and more fuel-efficient,” said Dr. Aravind Kailas, research and innovation manager at Volvo Group. “The strength of this timely California partnership exemplifies the need for private and public sector collaboration to make connected vehicle ecosystems a reality.”

The kickoff event marked the beginning of a 12-month technology assessment and design refinement period for two distinct Eco-Drive concepts: an integrated visual advisory developed jointly by University of California Riverside Center for Environmental Research and Technology (UCR-CERT) and the Volvo Group, and a smartphone-based audible feedback developed by UCR-CERT.

Both Eco-Drive concepts will be evaluated on arterials near the San Pedro Bay ports in Southern California, and aim to reduce emissions and energy use to improve the health and quality of life in communities disproportionately affected by heavy truck traffic, Volvo said. 

“Evaluating connected vehicle technologies in real-world environments is an essential part of the development process, even in this early exploration phase. Involving these stakeholders will help collectively identify and overcome the barriers to deploy and scale up the technology,” said Pascal Amar, principal investigator for the project at Volvo Group. “We recognize that in an increasingly digitally-driven society, such partnerships are required to address technical and political challenges simultaneously. Together we can build a truly intelligent transportation ecosystem, which enables our vision to drive emission reductions, improve road safety and quality of life for the surrounding communities.”

Did you know?

Retail sales rose 0.2 percent in January over December and posted a 2.3 percent year-over-year increasing, rebounding from a nine-year low of 1.6 percent year-over-year growth in December 2018.


“We have the worst roads in the country and I am proposing a plan that will permanently fix our roads while keeping the costs fair for seniors and low-income families. I know this won’t be easy, but with one historic vote we can make the investments that are necessary.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on her 45-cent per gallon fuel tax increase

In other news:

Michigan governor pitches huge fuel tax hike

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is proposing a 45-cent per gallon fuel tax increase to fund infrastructure projects. (Transport Topics)

California legislator proposes law to phase out diesel

A California legislator has proposed a law that would cut diesel emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. (Government Tech)

Alibaba secures stake in delivery company

E-commerce giant Alibaba is buying a 15 percent stake in delivery company STO Express, giving it partial ownership of four of China’s six largest delivery companies. (Wall Street Journal)

Port of Virginia completes first stage of expansion

The Port of Virginia has put into operation 12 new container stacks and 24-rail-mounted gantry cranes as part of a $375M expansion. (Port Technology)

BNSF breaks ground on Denver rail facility

BNSF is building a logistics center outside Denver to help open up more rail opportunities for customers through the area. (Progressive Railroad)

Final Thoughts

California State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has proposed a bill that would, in effect, phase out diesel engines in the state. The bill calls for a 40 percent reduction in diesel emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Opponents say it is not possible without a major overhaul of the trucking industry. Almost anything, of course, is possible, and at a price. Where technology will be 20 years from now, we don’t know, and whether Skinner’s vision is fiscally possible is debatable, but given that trucks stay in operation for 20-plus years in many cases, we are not far from the time where we need to start having these types of discussions.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

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