The Trailer Drone concept and the modular Fuel Cell e-Bogie concept on which it’s built are arguably the most revolutionary hydrogen-powered concepts that Hyundai Motor Group introduced in the Hydrogen Wave symposium this week. They believe that by combining zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells with autonomous driving technology, the field of trucking and logistics can be redefined. This starts with abandoning the majority of the truck.
The name and inspiration for e-Bogie are derived from bogies, which are the two-axle subframes on which a train car rides at both ends. The e-Bogie is an autonomous electric vehicle chassis that is powered by a fuel cell propulsion system, more similar to a “shipping robot” than a truck. The e-four-wheel Bogie’s independent steering allows it to perform amazing feats like turning while standing at one place and diagonal ‘crab walk’ driving. Its muscular, low-profile design allows it to carry a small cargo container or other weight.
When many e-Bogies operate together in ‘Cluster-Mode,’ they attract attention. By putting two e-Bogies on a full-sized semi-trailer together, one on each end, a Trailer Drone is formed. It will be an autonomous trailer that can direct itself through shipping yards, roads, and even in town areas. Large trailers can be efficiently steered through tight turns and small roundabouts. This is facilitated by dual independent steering on both ends.
While e-Bogie can be the front or back of the Trailer Drone physically, the trailer itself includes some of the sensors that assist in highway autonomous driving. It also has front and rear panels that aid in high-speed aerodynamics. Drones can also platoon on the highway to improve long-haul efficiency, which is projected to be over 621 miles (1,000 km) per H2 fill-up. When the trailer arrives, it may self-unload by elevating onto deployable legs and letting the e-Bogies drive away. It can even be split into three smaller containers, each of which can be transported to its final destination by an autonomous e-Bogie.
Outside of transportation and logistics, the e-Bogie vehicle platform could be helpful. Hyundai also showed off a Rescue Drone design, which equips a single Fuel Cell e-Bogie with emergency response equipment. Responders monitoring the video feed of an aerial drone charged and stored atop the Rescue Drone platform could deploy the concept autonomously into dangerous firefighting or disaster relief situations, or it could be remotely operated by responders monitoring the video feed of an aerial drone charged and stored atop the Rescue Drone platform. Between the drone’s wheels, there’s even a place for an interior compartment with more equipment or even a pair of stretchers for evacuating injured people.
The Hyundai Motor Group’s Vision 2040 ambition of popularising hydrogen as a future renewable fuel is exemplified by the Fuel Cell e-Bogie prototypes. A pair of hydrogen-powered heavy-duty service trucks and the Vision FK concept, a fuel cell plug-in hybrid sports car, were also unveiled by the company.