Nikola’s hydrogen fuel trucks to be first in US with PlusDrive automationMarch 2, 2023
They will be the first Class 9 fuel cell electric vehicles with the automated driving system in the United States.
Nikola Corporation – best known for its hydrogen fuel trucks and fueling network plans – has announced that it has selected PlusDrive as an option for Nikola Tre vehicles that will be rolling out next year.
PlusDrive is a safety, fuel efficiency and driver comfort enhancement system developed by Plus.
“PlusDrive elevates the role of the professional driver to a pilot who supervises the system to drive on the highway,” read a recent press release describing the automated assistance system. “Its capabilities go far beyond basic driver assistance capabilities such as lane keeping and automatic emergency brakes. PlusDrive also handles everything from staying centered in the lane, lane changes, merges, stop-and-go traffic, and nudging, while the driver remains alert and attentive.”
Nikola has confirmed that the first factory installed PlusDrive in hydrogen fuel trucks will be next year.
“The enhanced driver assistance features are yet another differentiator of Nikola’s premium driver experience for our customers,” explained Nikola Corporation president and CEO Michael Lohscheller. “We are one of the first OEMs to offer 100% electric steering paired with the ZF EBS braking system. This base technology in all our vehicles, combined with Nikola’s own internally developed vehicle controls, over-the-air updates and vehicle security can enable the integration of these advanced sensors and the realization of the PlusDrive safety system from Plus.”
PlusDrive will also help to ensure that the battery electric and hydrogen fuel trucks are providing their best efficiency.
Ensuring the best efficiency and performance from hydrogen fuel and battery electric trucks.
The announcement from Nikola explained that “PlusDrive will moderate and predict the optimal and safest speed, while also taking full advantage of regenerative braking in traffic and slowing conditions. Also, the vehicle is expected to keep the best position within the lane and account for other large vehicles and emergency vehicles.”
Not unlike other existing automated driving systems, the PlusDrive system to be installed in Nikola trucks use radar, a spectrum of cameras and LiDAR. The vehicle maker views this addition as an opportunity to considerably enhance the capacity of a driver to safely interact with other road users, providing added liability protection to the driver and vehicle owner alike.
Though PlusDrive isn’t newly developed for Nikola, the electric and hydrogen fuel trucks will include a new capability to the system that was first announced in the company’s release. It stated that “When not in use on the highway, the Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicles will maintain the ability to detect obstacles and traffic in the blind spots. Other traffic, including motorcycles and pedestrians, will continue to be highlighted to provide drivers with their proximity information.”
The PlusDrive system to be offered in the Nikola tricks are meant for use in all traffic conditions.
The announcement also added that “The system will work in all traffic conditions, including loading docks. Pedestrian safety around the trucks is especially important as much quieter zero-emissions vehicles become a mainstay. The system will highlight pedestrians around the vehicle to help ensure safety of typical operations including loading and unloading, inspections, and charging and fueling. Safe operation during high-power charging and hydrogen fueling will also be supplemented with detection and recording features.”
This is a considerable leap forward for the system that was developed for highway use, as street and yard operations by their very nature are associated with a considerably higher number of incidents.
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