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Periodic Report Summary 2 - TRANSFORMERS (Configurable and Adaptable Trucks and Trailers for Optimal Transport Efficiency)

Project Context and Objectives:
Background and Introduction

The 2011 European Commission Transport White Paper presented a CO2 reduction target for the transport sector of 60% by 2050. The TRANSFORMERS project directly addresses this goal through topic GC.SST.2013-5 “Configurable and Adaptable Truck” of Call FP7-SST-2013-RTD-1, that falls under the European Green Cars Initiative, under the RTD pillar “Research for Heavy Duty Vehicles for Medium and Long Distance Road Transport”.

The overall objective of the TRANSFORMERS project is to develop and demonstrate innovative, energy and load efficient semi-trailer combinations for long haul transport missions. TRANSFORMERS combines a modular approach for mission rightsizing by means of distributed hybridisation, and semi-trailer designs that include innovations improving both the aerodynamics of the full vehicle combination and load capacity. By combining reduced energy consumption with increased load efficiency, TRANSFORMERS targets a 25% energy consumption reduction per tonne/km of goods transported in real world scenarios within the existing European regulatory framework. This reduction is targeted without affecting the road infrastructure. This is achieved through the following innovations:
• A semi-trailer mounted “Hybrid-on-Demand” (HoD) electric driveline, including a pre-standardisation truck-trailer communication framework to enable widespread market introduction and provide planning certainty for future RTD activities.
• Mission-based, transformable vehicle aerodynamics.
• An internal trailer design offering increased load capacity.
• Mission adaptability to allow optimisation of the vehicle combination for each load or transport mission.

Key Facts & Figures

• Full name: Configurable and Adaptable Trucks and Trailers for Optimal Transport Efficiency
• Duration: 4 years
• End date: 31 August 2017
• Budget: €7.9M of which €5.2M EC funding


The project consortium consists of 13 partners from 6 EU countries plus 2 international organisations.

Work Programme

The work programme is divided into 8 work packages (WP).

WP 1: Use Cases and Requirements
WP 2: Holistic Simulation
WP 3: Electric “Hybrid-on-Demand” Framework
WP 4: Mission Adaptable Truck Trailer Architecture
WP 5: Infrastructure Aspects & Compliance, Regulatory Framework
WP 6: Demonstration, Validation and Evaluation
WP 7: Dissemination and Exploitation
WP 8: Project management

The work packages are closely integrated.
Project Results:
Project’s main achievements since the start of the project
WP 1: Use cases and Requirements
An analysis of the European road freight transport fleet and market has been undertaken, KPI have been defined and verified with a broad end user group, and possible routes and mission scenarios have been identified as the basis of the evaluation of the test results in WP6. The trans-European routes were selected by an IRU working group. End user key performance areas which were identified.

WP 2: Holistic Simulation

The HoD vehicle model architecture and sub-system interfaces have been defined, and sub-system models are available for holistic simulation. The model has been used to optimise the selection of key components, and will be used to simulate different route or mission scenarios and to support the evaluation of the test results. A simulation plan was set up according to the model parameters in the adjoining figure. By simulating different variations of the same scenario it will be possible to see how these parameters will affect the fuel consumption and efficiency of the vehicle.

WP 3: Electric Hybrid-on-Demand Framework

A proposal for a pre-standardisation HoD communication framework has been developed, the drivetrain designed and a safety study completed for the HoD (energy efficiency) trailer.

The HoD driveline is fully contained beneath the trailer Electric braking and propulsion is provided via the rear trailer axle, with only control signals exchanged with the truck. The HoD is, however, not self-propelled. The electric brake is activated from the truck by an extra retarder lever function. A brake blending capability has also been developed in conjunction with Knorr Bremse, so that the use of the electric or regenerative brake can be optimised seamlessly relative to the service brakes. Electric propulsion is provided automatically depending on the torque requested by the driver.

The HoD driveline has been successfully designed, sourced, installed, commissioned and tested. Registration of the trailer with the German authorities is in the final stages, and the trailer will shortly be handed over to the truck OEMs for on-track testing in both the Netherlands and Sweden, and for on-road fuel economy measurements in Sweden.

WP 4: Mission Adaptable Truck-Trailer Architecture

In this WP two trailers are being developed, the energy efficiency (HoD) and load optimisation trailers. WP4 has also produced simulations to assess the effects of the HoD system on the dynamic stability of the vehicle combination, and no significant adverse effects have been identified and this is supported by the braking tests conducted as part of the brake blending development in WP3. Further on-track handling and braking tests will be conducted before the on-road fuel economy measurements start as part of WP6.

The energy efficiency trailer incorporates the HoD driveline, and aerodynamic optimisation of the complete vehicle combination (truck and semi-trailer). The aerodynamic measures include adjustable height roof deflector on the cab, curved front trailer bulkhead, boat tail, and side fairings. However, the key innovation which has been developed within the project is the single segment roof which can be lowered and tilted for high density, weight limited transport missions, see figure below. The energy efficiency trailer will be used for fuel economy measurements. Installation of the roof has just been completed, and the trailer has been handed over to the truck OEMs for on-track testing in both the Netherlands and Sweden, and on-road fuel economy measurements in Sweden.

The load optimisation trailer focuses on improving internal load capacity within current weights and dimensions regulations. A study was made of existing transport missions within Europe including the use of trailers, and loading/unloading operations at either end. From this study a number of Innovations were developed which include increased capacity for Europallets through a modification to the front bulkhead, a collapsible rear docking plate. Additionally, a multi-segment, independently adjustable double floor system has been developed which is ideal for the transport of mixed goods. It also includes aerodynamic optimisation measures similar to those used on the energy efficiency trailer, however, the main innovation is a 4 segment roof developed within the project in which the segments can be lowered and tilted individually to further optimise the aerodynamic profile for high density, weight limited transport missions. Construction of the load optimisation trailer is almost complete, and loading/unloading efficiency measurements will be undertaken in-service with a transport provider and end user.

WP 5: Infrastructure Aspects and Compliance

WP5 investigates the potential effects of the TRANSFORMERS innovations on different aspects of the highway infrastructure:
• Comparison of the mechanical impact of new vehicle configurations on the highway infrastructure, e.g. pavements (structure: fatigue, surface: rutting), bridges (static and dynamic effects), and safety barriers.
• Compliance of the vehicles with geometric highway constraints, including quasi-static behaviour (geometrical compliance at low speed), and dynamic behaviour (dynamic stability and geometrical compliance on different road profiles at speed).
• Regulatory aspects: Compliance of new vehicles with existing/planned weight and dimensions regulations (EC96/53). Proposals for adaptation of current or future regulations will be made if necessary.

Critical infrastructure elements to assess have been identified, assessment methods selected, and simulations are in progress. Initial results suggest that the HoD system has a positive effect on impacts with safety barriers as the centre of gravity is lowered. Physical driving dynamics test are planned to collect measurements to validate some of the models used.

WP 6: Demonstration, Validation and Evaluation

The main part of the work package (collection of test measurements, validation of simulations and evaluation of the results) will be undertaken in Period 3 of the project, i.e. from autumn 2016.

The test activities focus on the energy efficiency trailer including driving dynamics, on-track aerodynamic performance, on-road fuel economy measurements on realistic long-haul transport routes, and on-track measurements of fuel economy in simulated heavy traffic conditions. Test procedures, a test schedule, and the data measurement and data logging set-up have been determined. On-track testing of aerodynamics and driving dynamics will be undertaken in the Netherlands and Sweden. On-road fuel economy measurements will be undertaken in Sweden, while on-track measurements of fuel economy in simulated heavy traffic conditions will be undertaken in the Netherlands. The testing of loading/unloading efficiency for the load optimisation trailer will be undertaken in- service with a transport provider and end user.

The results will be used to validate simulation models from WP2 and WP4, which in turn will be used to support the evaluation of the performance of the TRANSORMERS innovations on the typical trans-European routes identified in WP1, and finally to establish a business case for the different innovative technologies that have been developed within the project

WP 7: Dissemination and Exploitation

The public project website is in use (, a project flyer is available and has been distributed at many events, an animated video which is available on the project website has been prepared demonstrating the main innovations of the project, 4 newsletters have been distributed to over 100 individuals, and a number of conference papers and external presentations have been made. A wide end-user group has been established and a meeting of the group contributed valuable input to the project. An Advisory Board of external stakeholders has been established to focus on the economic and technical achievability of the project, and two advisory board meetings have been held. The project has also prepared a draft exploitation strategy which will be developed further as the test results become available in the later stages of the project.


The following deliverables were produced during the first reporting period:
D1.1 – Report on end user requirements
D1.2 – Report on defined key performance indicators
D1.3 – Report on defined scenarios and test cases
D1.4 – Quality assurance and risk management plan
D2.1 – Specifications of subsystems and simulation models of subsystems
D3.1 – Defined HoD driveline and framework capabilities and features
D4.1 – Overview of aerodynamic measures
D7.1 – Project website
D7.2 – Project templates
D7.3 – Final flyer

The following deliverables have been produced during the second reporting period:
D1.5 – Updated quality assurance & risk management plan
D1.6 – Report on "Route selection" (annex to D1.3)
D2.2 – Optimised component selection
D2.5 – Measurement format specified
D2.7 – Optimised Component Selection (follow up from D2.2)
D3.2 – Report on HoD framework including specifications of infrastructure, interfaces, and ECU functionalities
D3.3 – Demonstrator of a configurable electric trailer driveline running in the trailer
D4.2 – Overview of technical & economical possibilities for the semi-trailer design with focus on optimised transport efficiency
D4.3 – Theoretical validation of the driving controls strategy & safety/stability assessment by simulation & benchmarking
D4.4 – One prototype load optimisation trailer for the WP6 test phase (as-built technical documentation)
D4.5 – One prototype energy efficiency (HoD) trailer for the WP6 test phase (as-built technical documentation)
D6.5 – Test plan and data logging requirements
D7.5 & 7.6 – Newsletters

Potential Impact:
Next Steps
The project is about to enter its most exciting phase with driving dynamics, fuel economy, aerodynamic, and loading/unloading efficiency testing all starting in the autumn of 2016. The driving dynamics and aerodynamic tests for the energy efficiency trailer will be undertaken on test tracks in the Netherlands and Sweden. The fuel economy measurements for the energy efficiency trailer will be undertaken on-road in Sweden, while on-track measurements of fuel economy in simulated heavy traffic conditions will be undertaken in the Netherlands. Loading and unloading efficiency tests for the load optimisation trailer will be undertaken with a transport operator and end user on routes across Europe. Following the testing the results will be evaluated and business cases investigated. In the upcoming period the TRANSFORMERS trailers will be seen on roads across Europe.

Expected Final Results

The TRANSFORMERS consortium has built an engaged and successful team during the first 3 years of the project, who have laid the foundations for successfully achieving the project’s objectives in the final period. The combination of reduced energy consumption and increased load optimisation is expected to result in the targeted 25% energy consumption reduction per of goods transported in real world scenarios, within the existing European regulatory framework and without affecting the road infrastructure.

Potential Impact and Exploitation of Results

The potential impact of the TRANSFORMERS results will be evaluated in the final period of the project as test measurements become available. The evaluation will allow the definition of the actions that would lead to a successful market introduction of the innovative TRANSFORMERS technologies, both from the perspective of the partners, and from a wider societal perspective such as policy makers, and regulatory or standardisation bodies. The exploitation will take into account results from the testing, simulation and evaluation activities and may include appropriate standardisation or regulatory activities through which to anchor the HoD framework recommendations, any recommendations linked to vehicle combinations, weights and dimensions, and any modifications necessary to infrastructure design guidance.

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