The ideas man

The ideas man

With his work on platooning and other areas of autonomous transport, Scania engineer Christoffer Norén will soon have a string of patents to his name.

Last year, Development Engineer Christoffer Norén celebrated his first-ever patent, granted to him for his groundbreaking research into strategies for fuel-efficient ways to allow trucks to leave vehicle platoons.

His ‘first-born’ is obviously special but he is now looking forward to a string of new patents, with seven applications pending.

Developing autonomous trucks and buses

Norén is developing autonomous trucks and buses, as well as their necessary support systems. Before starting at Scania 2013, he studied Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, and it was during his studies that he obtained a summer job at Scania R&D’s Pre-Development & Research of Autonomous Transport Solutions.

He later completed his Master’s thesis there but then moved to work with advanced driver assistance systems. Now he’s back working in long-term research, and he is really enjoying his work.

“Autonomous vehicles are a fascinating area to work in and an area which is clearly gaining ground,” Norén says.

Norén’s patented ‘exit strategy’ for truck platoons

The patent that Norén has already been granted will be instrumental in implementing full-scale multi-brand platooning. In a convoy of ten trucks, his patented strategy will determine the optimal vehicle sequence in terms of how the trucks exit the platoon.

The strategy helps determine how to optimally re-arrange the sequence of the vehicles and where individual vehicles should leave the platoon considering terrain, traffic, weather, the road carriageway and the individual routes of the vehicles in the platoon. This might lead to a decision, for example, to re-arrange the platoon before entering a single lane road and positioning the vehicle that is due to leave first at the rear. This minimises the disturbance while leaving and saves fuel.

“If possible, we would like to make the most use of the potential energy when descending, as this can really save fuel,” says Norén.

New technology can quickly make new ideas a reality

The research behind his invention was carried out in early 2015 and these days he continues to develop new systems that will be needed for the increasing automation of vehicles.

“One of the really attractive aspects of this work is the short time from development to introduction into production. Obviously, this is simpler with software than hardware, because an early morning idea can be tried and tested by lunchtime.”
Meanwhile, Norén continues to mull over new ideas. “You might have a challenging problem without any given solution,” he says.

“Then suddenly during a coffee break, the solution appears. It’s uncanny really.”