Volta Trucks, the manufacturer of the upcoming Volta Zero – a fully electric commercial vehicle – has shed some light on the safety of its heavy good vehicle for both the driver and vulnerable road users (such as pedestrians).
The driver of the Volta Zero will sit at the centre of the cabin, giving them a wide 220-degree view of oncoming traffic or pedestrians. The panoramic glasshouse-style cab is designed to deliver a Transport for London five-star ‘Direct Vision Standard’ rating for optimum visibility.
To help reduce blind spots and help the driver perform manoeuvres, the Volta Zero will feature rear-view cameras, which will provide a 360-degree birds-eye view of the truck and its surroundings.
“Safety is at the heart of the Volta brand for one simple reason. In London, as an example, 23% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist deaths involve an HGV, yet large trucks only account for 4% of road miles. This is clearly unacceptable and must change. The Volta Zero completely reimagines the commercial vehicle, ensuring it can operate safely with all road users and become a friend of the zero-emission city,” said Carl-Magnus Norden, Founder of Volta Trucks.
Elsewhere, the driver of a Volta Zero will sit far lower than that of a driver of an internal combustion engine-based (ICE) truck. As such, their eye-line will be at around 1.8m, similar to the height of pedestrians and other road users in close proximity.
With the driver sitting at a more accessible height, it’ll mean entering and returning to the HGV will be much more convenient than a conventional ICE-based truck. As for the design of the cabin, it’ll be met with a contemporary, uncluttered dashboard and a digital interface.
Here, the centre display will show critical information, while two touchscreen displays on either side of the steering wheel will be used to control the lights, adjust the climate, provide navigation and trip planning, communication, and of course, the ability to control ones media.
On top of the safety benefits, the in-cabin technology will have the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS electronic systems help driving, manoeuvring and parking, and make a significant contribution to the safe operation of larger vehicles. For example, the Zero will feature Active Steering, Road Sign Assist, and Reversing Assistant. While on the move, Lane Change Assist and Lane Departure Warning systems will aid drivers change and stay in lane, respectively.
The most intriguing part of the vehicle’s cabin comes from its hybrid mix of innovative materials. Here, the lightweight, high-strength carbon fibre is used for the structural windscreen surround, where most of the cab’s external body panels are constructed from strong yet sustainable natural Flax fibre composite material.
Unlike structural carbon fibre, the near-carbon neutral Flax composite body panels will bend, reshape, and ultimately snap, unlike its pure carbon fibre counterpart that shatters. This flexible behaviour is well suited to urban mobility, reducing the risk of sharp debris that can injure people or cause further accidents through punctures. Simulations have shown that the use of composite body panels has the same crash and safety performance as conventional steel material.
Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks, Rob Fowler, concluded; “We have created the full-electric Volta Zero as a direct response to the crucial issues that face our metropolitan areas. Trucks must operate in cities for commerce to exist and livelihoods to be maintained, but it cannot be acceptable that they cause damage to the environment they operate in and harm to the people around them.
Unlike today’s large trucks that dominate their surroundings, by design, the Volta Zero supports the driver with the broadest visibility and latest safety technology, as well as a comfortable and easy-to-use working environment in the cab. This all ensures that the Volta Zero will operate cleanly and safely in the world’s city centres, happily coexisting and operating alongside all other road users.”