Tag Archives: side guard research

DOE pours millions into SuperTruck fuel savings research projects; $0 devoted to side underride protection?

How is it that the DOE and Volvo poured resources into research and development of SuperTrucks but did not bother to (as far as I can tell, though I am not done looking into this yet) include improved underride protection as a goal of this project?!

  1. http://www.truckinginfo.com/ channel/fuel-smarts/news/ story/2016/09/volvo-s- supertruck-exceeds-epa- freight-efficiency-goals.aspx
  2. I have not been able to get Wabash to return my communications. I am trying to find out if they did any crash testing with their full-length skirts or what material it is made out of: http://news. wabashnational.com/wabash- national-demonstrates- concepts-for-next-generation- aerodynamic-solutions-on- navistars-supertruck
  3. DOE’s Navistar : http://www.truckinginfo.com/ news/story/2016/09/navistar- supertruck-beats-doe- efficiency-goals-hits-13-mpg. aspx
  4. Aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer’s drag coefficient by more than 30%. The vehicle is part of the DOE’s SuperTruck program – a five-year research and development initiative aimed at improving freight efficiency, based in the measure of the payload carried while burning less fuel.

Its objective is to develop and demonstrate a 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency on a Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle as measured in ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

Could they not have combined resources with DOT to accomplish such a thing?

Again, cost-savings over life-savings.

Can we use the potential fuel efficiency cost-savings of side guards advantageously to win the cost/benefit analysis battle?

Super Truck II is announced! Let’s get DOT to be involved with this project! $20,000 fuel savings/year could go to safety research!!!!!!!!!!!!

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was present for the unveiling of Volvo’s SuperTruck concept/demo rig in Washington, D.C. Here’s what he had to say about reaching the DOE’s next step in the fuel economy/freight efficiency project: SuperTruck II. http://www.truckinginfo. com/video/detail/2016/09/on- the-spot-reaching-for- supertruck-ii-video.aspx

More information on this SuperTruck project and random frustrated reactions:

$20 million in federal funding for the Super Truck II project and we can’t get diddly for side guard research?!?!?!!?!

http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/volvo-group-outlines-supertruck-ii-plans.aspx  Volvo Group has outlined how it plans to use $20 million in federal funding to further the freight-moving efficiency of heavy-duty trucks as part of the SuperTruck II initiative.

Volvo Group said its team of researchers and engineers will use alternative engine designs and an integrated system approach to build a lightweight tractor-trailer concept that will exceed the freight efficiency goal of 100% improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis compared to a 2009 baseline. The team is also tasked with demonstrating powertrain capable of 55% brake thermal efficiency. Volvo Group and its partners will match the development funds dollar-for-dollar.

To achieve these goals, the company plans to leverage its experience in vehicle development along with established partnerships with advanced technology and trailer equipment vendors.

Those partners include Michelin Americas Research Company for tires, Wabash National for trailers, Metalso for lightweight frames, Johnson-Matthey for exhaust aftertreatment systems, and Peloton Technology for platooning and connected vehicle tech. . .

Daimler Trucks North America will develop and demonstrate a tractor-trailer combination using a suite of technologies including active aerodynamics, cylinder deactivation, hybridization, and the electrification of accessories. . .

For more information on the DOE’s alternative fuel technology investment, click herehttps://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office

Related: DOE Commits $137M to Advance Fuel-Efficient Tech  http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/doe-commits-137-million-to-advance-fuel-efficient-tech.aspx

Yet more disturbing information:

This gives links to multiple articles on the SuperTruck project: http://www.truckinginfo.com/list/tag/supertruck.aspx

Trailer aerodynamics have become increasingly important in recent years as truck operators see that they can save fuel money. They’re so important that the federal government is paying several teams of truck and trailer makers to design concept rigs that show what’s possible in this area of science.

As far back as the 1980s I’ve written about various types of trailer aero fairings, from Nose Cones to TrailerTails and many brands of skirts and other appendages in between.

Here’s one I don’t recall writing about, at least not lately: the UnderTray and other products from SmartTruck. The company has posted a YouTube video depicting a tractor-trailer moving through the air at highway speed, with streamlines showing how the devices smooth air flow over the vehicle. Check it out here

Also note the Diffuser, SmartTruck’s device mounted ahead of the rear underride guard that redirects air away from its vertical and horizontal members. These otherwise grab at the air and create drag. (Old timers still call this the “ICC bumper” because the old Interstate Commerce Commission required them, something I definitely don’t recall being a fact, but it’s part of trucking vocabulary.)

The trailer portion of Freightliner’s SuperTruck of course got large panels that improve air flow around corners, deep skirts to keep air away from the Strick van’s undercarriage and tandem, and a boat tail similar to a Trailer Tail, but home-made. One would expect all of those.

What?!?!?!?!?!?! All of this government money going into research & development for fuel savings but not a word or project related to underride protection/SAFETY?!

Side Underride Kills; Side Guards Save Lives: Support Underride Research

We are raising money to move side underride research and side guard development forward. Support side guard research projects, which will help get affordable and effective side guards on the market. Donate here.

This is what we want to support:

Project #1: Continuation of Aaron Kiefer‘s Side Underride Prevention Research
The tragic Tesla fatal crash on May 7, 2016, highlights a real and present highway danger — cars sliding underneath large trucks when vehicles collide. No matter what caused the Tesla crash, the driver might have lived if the truck had had side guards.

U.S. & Canadian safety advocates are calling for an end to preventable truck underride tragedies. Hundreds of people die every year when pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passenger vehicles go underneath trucks.

It can happen to anyone — even if their car has a 5-Star Crash Rating. It can happen anywhere. It happened to AnnaLeah (17) & Mary Karth (13), when their car went under the rear of a semi-trailer on May 4, 2013, in Georgia. And it happened to Jessica Holman-Price (21) when she went under the side of a truck as a pedestrian on December 19, 2005, in Canada.

U.S. regulators have debated for decades about how to stop the tragedy of underride deaths – including, since 1969, the possibility of requiring underride protection to be added to the sides of large trucks. But they have not done so, even though engineers have already found ways to solve this problem.

The work that we have done has actually put us into contact with others working on the underride guards. One such person is Aaron Kiefer who is currently an accident research specialist in North Carolina. He has designed a guard that can be retro-fitted onto current truck guards to improve their strength and reduce underride. He has crash tested it successfully and now needs to do further research to refine the design to be ready for the industry.

This will include the following expenses: aluminum extrusions for the rear reinforcement attachments ($28,000) and an aluminum side guard slide to allow for truck driver functionality in pre-trip inspections of tires ($18,000); development of a prototype for a system at the trailer front, which will allow the side guard to flare up 20-30 degrees when the air brakes are turned off, and back down when the brakes are turned on ($23,000) – again to aid in pre-trip inspections and changing tires; and crash testing to validate and verify the effectiveness of the TrailerGuard System ($43,000). Total Costs for Side Guard Research & Development = $112,000 – a project and cost which is currently not being taken up by the trucking industry. When Aaron’s work is completed, the underride protection system would be ready for a manufacturer to produce and sell to the trucking industry.

Project #2:  Collegiate Side Underride Protection Design Competition A collision between the back of a commercial motor vehicle and a passenger vehicle too often results in underride in which the occupants of the smaller vehicle experience horrific injuries usually leading to tragic death. For too many decades, the question of under what circumstances this can be prevented has been left unanswered and the industry solutions have been mostly weak and ineffective.

While the crash testing conducted by the IIHS and our own efforts in recent years to change this have brought about some improvement in rear underride guards, the question has still not been definitively addressed. As Bill Graves, the former president of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in a 2011 ABC article,

“’It doesn’t provide the kind of underguard protection that clearly is called for. . .’ Graves said, though, that the right barrier design is a ‘complicated puzzle to solve. . . That’s the question the federal government has been wrestling now for many years, is what’s the strength we want,’ he said. ‘What’s too much? And what’s not enough?’” (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/road-warning-death-big-rig-guillotine/story?id=13026797 Lisa Stark, March 1, 2011 )

Because side underride has received less countermeasure effort, and is not currently being addressed by the trailer manufacturing industry itself, this project will also organize a collegiate design competition to challenge engineering students to design affordable and effective side underride protection for large trucks.

Collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams from various universities will identify the outer limits of effective side underride protection, i.e., ascertain the optimum levels of energy absorption and rigidity both to prevent underride and also to result in survivable (and without life-altering injuries) deceleration forces at the maximum speed possible (at various angles).

Two student teams (up to ten students on each team) will be selected by IIHS to receive funding from the grant for their project expenses (up to $15,000, as needed). The two teams will each meet with IIHS early in the process to define the single demonstration crash test that will be performed on the winning design.

The two teams will, also, be expected to provide four written reports (mid-Fall Semester, end of Fall Semester, mid-Spring Semester, and end of academic year) – including a report on their design’s capabilities using computer simulation. They will also be expected to make a final group presentation at an event scheduled at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, at the end of the academic year.

One team’s project will be selected, by a group of 6 judges, for crash testing at this event. The Traffic Safety Ombudsman will oversee this project and recruit 5 judges in addition to the judge from the IIHS.

In addition, each team must include students and/or consult with professionals in relevant fields of study/research/expertise, including but not limited to mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, injury prevention, collision reconstruction, trailer manufacturing, marketing, and law (to do a law review of the cost/benefit analysis in underride rulemaking as well as manufacturer liability issues in this matter).

(See the excellent work done by a Virginia Tech Senior Design Team in the 2015/16 academic year: http://tinyurl.com/j9rl3kw )


The side guard research has the potential to save 1,534 lives in the next ten years. (Per the NHTSA Truck Underride Statistics Chart, 1994-2014:  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Truck-Underride-Deaths-by-TYPE-1994-2014.pdf)

AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is eligible to receive contributions that may be tax deductible for the donor. Your donation will help fund research that will save lives!


Other ways to help: How You Can Help