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A rather unusual trolleybus has been navigating the streets of Zurich in recent months. With its large windscreen and covered wheels, it could easily be mistaken for a tram – but it's not just the design that makes this bus so unique. For a start, it features a hybrid electric drive system that allows it to draw power from an on-board traction battery as well as overhead wires. But this bus is also "smart", boasting specially designed software that automatically gathers information on the route. That means it always knows what to expect – whether that's a downhill stretch or a dead wire up ahead.
This intelligent city bus is the result of a joint project between ETH and the Swiss SME Carrosserie HESS, which is headquartered in Bellach in the canton of Solothurn. Carrosserie HESS is Switzerland's only bus manufacturer – and ETH has developed an energy management software package tailored to its needs. Using algorithms, the software determines when the bus should alternate between the overhead wires and battery pack by identifying the optimum source of power at each particular moment. For example, during a hill climb the most sensible choice is to drain the traction battery, because the bus can subsequently take advantage of regenerative braking on a downhill stretch to recharge the battery "for free". This method can reduce energy use by up to 15 percent, which translates into considerable cost savings.
Collaborative - Project - Advantages - Sides - HESS
This collaborative project offers advantages on both sides. HESS benefits from a capacity for innovation that would be inconceivable without a research partner. "We simply don't have the resources to develop that kind of efficient energy management system on our own," says Martin Widmer, who is responsible for the project at Carrosserie HESS. Working with ETH has allowed the Swiss company and its approximately 260 employees...
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