Hyundai is announcing its Trailer Drone concept and the modular Fuel Cell e-Bogie concept. Altogether, these vehicles are imagining that zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cells and autonomous driving tech will merge to change the way we think of trucking and logistics. Weirdly enough, it all starts with ditching most of the truck itself.
Taking its name and inspiration from bogies, the e-Bogie is two-axle subframes that a train car can ride atop at each end. The e-Bogie is basically an autonomous electric chassis that is more “shipping robot” than truck. It is powering by a hydrogen fuel cell. The e-Bogie can pull off awe-inspiring maneuvers like turning in place and diagonal “crab walk” driving which is thanks in part to its four-wheel independent steering. Its stout, low-profile design allows it to carry a small shipping container or another load.
The multiple e-Bogies work together in Cluster-Mode. Then, place a pair of e-Bogies on a full-size semi-trailer. Each one at each end. There you have what Hyundai calls a Trailer Drone. It is an autonomous trailer that can literally pilot itself around shipping yards, on highways, and even in urban centers. The dual independent steering at both ends makes this happen. Then Hyundai does envision that large trailers can be skillfully navigating around tight bends and small roundabouts with apparent ease.
Either e-Bogie can be the front or rear of the Trailer Drone mechanically. Yet the trailer itself does house some of the sensors to aid in highway autonomous driving. This would be with front and trailing panels that do aid in high-speed aerodynamics. In addition, Hyundai also imagines that the drones will be able to maneuver on the highway. Thus cluster close together for improved aerodynamics and long-haul efficiency. Then Hyundai does estimates these vehicles as being able to go beyond 621 miles (1,000 km) per H2 fill-up. Then at arrival, the trailer can autonomously unload itself by lifting onto deployable legs. Next, let the underlying e-Bogies just drive away. Finally, they can even be split into three smaller containers. Therefore, each is able to be carrying by an independent e-Bogie to its final destination.