Friday, June 22, 2012

Solar Powered NBN Co Discovery Truck

HINO Hybrid TruckThe National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co), have a "NBN Co Discovery Truck" touring Australia to promote broadband use. The schedule says the truck is at Toormina today and then will be at Penrith (NSW) on 26 June. I saw the display in Canberra this week. This is a good display, but I suggest NBN Co need a smaller version of the truck for urban areas.

Co Discovery TruckThe NBN truck is a very large semi-trailer which requires a specially qualified driver, wide roads, a large set-up area and several staff. Also the display needs considerable amounts of electricity from a diesel generator.

I suggest NBN Co commission a smaller truck for inner urban areas. This could be small enough to be operated by one person with an ordinary car licence and use solar, or mains power, when set up for display.

Smallest trucks can have their engines "de-rated" so they can be driven with an ordinary car license. A small display on the back of such a truck could be powered from batteries, charged while driving and supplemented by a small solar cell. An ordinary outdoor power cable could be used to run the display for extended periods and a small generator used intermittently when there is no mains and no sun.

The display could be secured and automated so that one person could set it up and oversee it, but would not need to be present all the time.

Several companies make small hybrid trucks using similar technology to the Prius hybrid car. These small trucks are popular with parcel delivery companies and local councils, as they are most efficient for stop start traffic. One of these would generate enough electrical power to run a display for a day. One is the Hyno Hybrid Truck, from Toyota's truck subsidiary.

It should be noted that the idea of a traveling display of telecommunications technology on a truck around Australia is not a new one. Digital video expert, George Bray, ran the "TechTrek", around Australia, in 2002. George used a converted camper-van, sponsored by the Australian Government and technology companies, to survey the use of the Internet and demonstrate its benefits. This was reported by the BBC. The "TechTrek Final Report" (George Bray, May 2002) is available.

1 comment:

Tom Worthington said...

I was asked if the solar panels on a small truck would be enough to run an audio-visual display. The small trucks which can be driven with a normal car licence can have a roof area of about 8 square metres (2 x 4 m). A solar panel will generate about 1 kWh/m²/day, providing about 8 kWh in total. A large LCD panel of about 50 inches will use about 200 Watt. A small computer will use about 100 Watt. Allowing for lights and ancillary equipment (but no air conditioning), the total energy use would be less than 8 kWh a day.