Road train boldly takes the lead

Unusual MAZ Perestroika-2000 road train, near major gatekeeper’s office at Minsk Automobile Works, wins Grand Prix at International Paris Motor Show
By Vladimir Yakovlev

MAZ is yet again proving its recipe for success, having worked with the Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus to create a 47m long multi-link road train. It is able to transport 56 tonnes of cargo in its three cargo modules, boasting 259 cubic metres of volume. MAZ’s Deputy General Director for Technical Development, Dmitry Korotkevich, is confident, “Our future is in such vehicles.”

As a journalist, it was my good fortune to be among the first to see the innovation. Accordingly, I took the opportunity to quiz one of its developers, the Director of the Republican Computer Centre of Mechanical Engineering at the NAS’ Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Sergey Kharitonchik.

“The advantages are evident,” explains Mr. Kharitonchik. “We need three times fewer drivers and use much less fuel per cargo unit, bringing considerable benefits over long-distances. Best of all, it has wide application.” He leads me to the nearest trailer and points to the ‘brain’ of the vehicle. Depending on the driver’s command, each link can work together or independently. Soon, a single electronic control centre will be installed, boasting a monitor and multi-media functions.

Other top level technology includes each road train having its own diesel engine, power-steering and a rotating, controllable axle. According to test driver Valery Atroshenko, this enables the three-link vehicle to easily manoeuvre through the narrow corridors of the factory, let alone contemporary highways. Interestingly, the electronics and software, as well as the engines and other components, are made in Belarus.

“We’ve been long working on this idea but its embodiment in metal was possible only after Alexander Borovsky became the Head of MAZ,” explains academician Mikhail Vysotsky — General Designer, Hero of Belarus and designer of the Perestroika-2002. “The new road train uses the achievements of 12 academic scientific research institutes — in everything from metallurgy to nano-technologies. We have a totally new looking Belarusian road train, whose design will find application in tractors and combine building.”

The Government is now organising wider tests of the new road train, with changes to legislation forthcoming, to allow 47m long vehicles to be used on the country’s roads.
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