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Volvo puts trucks on autopilot

Volvo has developed an innovative way to cut fuel use in trucks, basically by running them on autopilot.

The Swedish automotive company's "I-See" software can reduce fuel consumption for long-distance transport by about 5 percent.

When a truck equipped with I-See first drives on a hilly road, the software stores topographic information for the next trip, and a wireless dispatch is conveyed to a central server.

Then, when a different truck equipped with I-See is about to drive the same stretch, the system automatically gets the information from the server and ensures the truck optimizes how it drives over the same hills.

"I-See uses the vehicle's kinetic energy to accelerate at the right time prior to the ascent to reduce the number of downshifts, while disengaging the vehicle just before reaching the brow of the hill and utilizes the energy perfectly for braking down the next hill," explains Anders Eriksson, who heads the development group, in a statement.

Volvo Trucks also has reduced the energy intensity of North America operations by 30 percent.

In related news, General Motors announced it will invest $332 million in more fuel-efficient engines and transmissions.

Spread across four manufacturing plants, the investment will be put towards making a new Ecotec engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission system and a V6 engine more efficient and better performing.

Last month, GM CEO Dan Akerson said vehicles built through 2017 would use 12 billion gallons less fuel over their lifecycles through greater efficiency, such as lightweighting vehicles.

This article reprinted with permission from SustainableBusiness.

Photo of a Volvo truck provided by Beast 1 via Flickr.

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