German manufacturer Bosch has come a long way from fixing batteries and light globes – Chris Mullett reports from NACV Atlanta.
When the Bosch sign hangs outside an auto shop it’s a symbol that the performance of the store will have properly trained and accredited technicians able to understand the complexities of electrical systems and find a solution for those in trouble.
While that’s very often still the case, the Bosch Group has moved on a little from those early objectives.
From a global perspective, the Robert Bosch Group employs roughly 410,000 associates worldwide, generating sales of $A137 billion in 2018. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.
Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2018, its sales came to $A77.31 billion, or 61 percent of total group sales, employing 35,400 associates in more than 100 locations.
So, as we expand our view of the Bosch Group away from the forecourt of the local auto-electrician outlet, we can dive in on the Mobility Solutions business sector to find that it carries an objective to pursue a vision of mobility that is accident-free and emissions-free, with an ongoing research and development programme that combines the group’s expertise in the domains of automation, electrification, and connectivity.
“We as an industry need to create technology that is for every fleet and every driver,” said Jason Roycht, vice president and regional business unit leader, Commercial Vehicles & Off-Road for Bosch in North America.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) projects freight will increase by 25 percent from 2019 to 2030. And the revenue generated by the transportation of freight in the
U.S. is set to grow more than 50 percent over that time, reaching $A2.36 trillion over the next decade.
“What’s clear is that what trucks do – moving freight – is increasing. And that freight should be moved more efficiently,” Roycht said.
Bosch has been a go-to resource for powertrain efficiency in the CV industry for many years and while it continues working to optimise the internal-combustion engine, it’s also providing new technologies for electrification.
The new Bosch modular 700V drive can be integrated into multiple vehicle architectures. Comprised of a separate-motor-generator, an inverter and a vehicle control unit (VCU), the solution supports various transmission formats, including inline, wheel near and electric axle. The unique approach also allows CV manufacturers to electrify already-existing vehicle platforms.
At NACV, Bosch fronted up with its solutions to develop fuel cells for CVs. The Bosch portfolio consists of essential components needed to implement fuel-cell technology, such as a hydrogen gas injector (HGI), an anode recirculation blower (ARB), an electric air compressor (EAC) and fuel cell stacks.
Bosch is also bringing electrification to medium-range delivery applications. The Deliver-E hybrid concept vehicle is the result of a project funded by the US Department of Energy. The goal is to design and integrate an advanced dual-planetary gear transmission featuring multiple clutches that reduces fuel consumption by up to 50 percent on a real-world drive cycle.
Attracting and retaining drivers is a key challenge for the industry and is based on the American trucking Association projecting the industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade. In order to hit this number, it will need to recruit 110,000 new drivers every year and overcome the driver shortage in the US that was estimated at around 60,000 at the end of 2018.
“Technology is our ally in this challenge,” Roycht said. “When we utilise new technology to enhance the driver experience, we are able to make a stronger case for recruiting and retaining drivers.”
Sensors, like radar and video, assist drivers by providing more visibility to help prevent accidents. The Bosch advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) includes front and corner radar for light-commercial vehicles as well as multiple-purpose cameras for both light and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. These enable a number of safety features, like automatic emergency braking, turn assistant and blind-spot recognition.
The Bosch Servotwin is an electro-hydraulic steering system that provides steering support to the driver, enhancing driving comfort and improving safety. It enables driver assistance functions, such as lane-keeping assistance, side-wind compensation and traffic jam assist. The system also provides a key building block for the rollout of automated features in the future.
Bosch is actively involved in the study of how automated technology can support the CV industry – particularly drivers – in the future. As part of a grant by the US Department of Transportation to DriveOhio and the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), Bosch will provide technology to help study highway truck automation and coordinated platooning.
Bosch had two vehicles on display at the NACV, with the first featuring numerous Bosch innovations including a new generation of infotainment, Electronic Horizon and 360 Surround View.
It was the second truck that really caught the eye of the show visitors, with the presence of the Nikola Two truck from Nikola Motor Company. Bosch has been an innovation partner to Nikola throughout the development process, and the truck features a number of Bosch innovations, such as a jointly developed fuel-cell system, Digital Vision System, Mirror Cam system and Perfectly Keyless and Servotwin steering system.
“This has been a two-and-a-half year cooperation targeted at implementing advanced technology into a totally new and unique approach to trucking with the highest levels of engineering excellence,” said Jason Roycht.
Bosch technology and expertise helped to realise the fully functional, hydrogen-electric powered prime mover, the Nikola Two, with industry-ready heavy-duty truck components and systems. The technology and system approach is adaptable for use in Nikola’s full line of vehicles, including the Nikola One Sleeper Cab and the Nikola Tre, a hydrogen-electric truck for European markets.
“Engineering teams from Bosch locations in the United States and Germany contributed more than 220,000 hours into the development of the Nikola trucks,” said Jason Roycht.
“This has been a two-and-a-half year cooperation targeted at implementing advanced technology into a totally new and unique approach to trucking with the highest levels of engineering excellence. The Nikola truck is more than just a fuel cell vehicle; it’s a rolling supercomputer with Bosch systems, software and engineering expertise helping to build the brains of the Nikola Two super truck.”
One of the key elements of Nikola’s advanced system is the Bosch Vehicle Control Unit (VCU), which provides higher computing power for advanced functions while reducing the number of standalone units.
The VCU enables future innovations by providing a scalable platform for the highly complex electric/electronic (E/E) architecture needed to support the advanced features of the Nikola truck. The Nikola family of trucks will be connected with an advanced and secure operating system that provides real-time, over-the-air updates and monitoring.
The partnership between Nikola and Bosch has reimagined the powertrain – and the vehicle chassis integrated together with it – from the ground up. The fuel-cell system designed to deliver benchmark vehicle range was custom-designed by the two organisations, which also worked in tandem to develop the first true dual-motor commercial-vehicle eAxle for a long-haul truck. The eAxle features Bosch rotors and stators, and Bosch has also contributed functional safety efforts throughout the truck.
In the place of the conventional main and wide-angle mirrors is a camera system, known as Mirror Cam System, which offers drivers a digital side and rear view from the truck cab. Two cameras, fitted left and right in place of traditional mirrors, feed real-time images to high-resolution displays mounted inside the cab.
The system, developed by Bosch and Mekra Lang, adjusts the monitor display to match the driving situation digitally. It captures both rear-view fields of vision of a CV mirror with just one camera lens on each side of the vehicle cab. In addition to increasing safety, compact digital cameras instead of mirrors offer aerodynamic advantages as the cameras are considerably smaller than mirrors and therefore reduce drag.
Fleet operators will be able to digitally manage vehicle keys for the Nikola trucks in their fleet thanks to the “Perfectly Keyless” system from Bosch.
Freight and commercial-vehicle rental companies can use a smartphone app to give their drivers access to specific fleet vehicles and to flexibly manage who has access and when. Sensors on the Nikola vehicles will connect with an app on a driver’s smartphone so that when the driver approaches the vehicle, Perfectly Keyless recognises the smartphone, identifies the unique security key assigned to the driver’s phone, and unlocks the door. As soon as the driver moves away from the truck again, the vehicle is automatically securely locked.
Nikola’s trucks are equipped for driver assistance and future automation thanks in part to the Bosch Servotwin electrohydraulic steering system. The steering system will enable driver-assistance systems that actively support the driver to enhance driving comfort and improve safety. The Servotwin enables features such as lane-keeping assistance, side-wind compensation and traffic jam assist. The system also provides a key building block for the rollout of automated features in the future.