• Apr 25th 2008 at 4:52PM
  • 4
Click on the image to see more high-res images of the hybrid helper concept

Have you ever witnessed a semi truck belching black smoke from its exhaust stacks as it struggles to maintain speed up a steep grade? If so, you've likely also witnessed the circus that ensues on the way back down the other side, as the truck picks up huge amounts of speed and momentum. This seems like the perfect situation to implement regenerative braking, and indeed, conceptual designs are being worked up for this exact scenario. The remote hybrid helper (RHH) would be used in hilly areas by semi trucks carrying heavy loads. The RHH attaches to the rear-most trailer and uses electric motors to push the truck uphill, then recaptures energy on the way back down.

Alternatively, the RHH could be used in heavy shipping lanes and ports, places where pollution is accumulating quickly. An opposing idea would be to integrate a similar system directly into the trailer chassis, eliminating the need for an additional hook-up but forcing the truck to haul heavy batteries on long, flat sections. With a bit more research and development, this could potentially be a winning concept.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm not sure I see where the inverted pendulum effect applies here. The motors are at the axles of the existing trailer with that extra trailer being just batteries. Since a majority of the weight of a full rig is the trailer as long as the cab is still providing net power to the trailer (which would almost certainly be the case going up hill) it's not an inverted pendulum.

      A big trucking company would simply need a small facility at each side of a mountain range... such as the Grape Vine outside of Los Angeles. A truck would hitch up a charged set of batteries on one side, discharge them going up, charge them going down and leave them for the next truck heading in the opposite direction. Add in much smaller batteries for non hill operation and the whole system would likely be quite cost effective.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This essentially makes the trailer a double, which requires a special endorsement on a CDL and is nearly impossible to back up. Also, the "push" mode would have to transmit torque through a hitch and a fifth wheel to help the truck along, something I'm not sure a kingpin and fifth wheel are designed to do.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Funny how ideas like this get so far and then fall on its face immediately upon scrutiny of the unwashed masses in the blogosphere.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Exactly. That's an inverted pendulum -- a classic example of an unstable design. Uck.
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