BERLIN—Engineers here are studying how to electrify long-distance road haulage. The goal of the eHaul project is to develop an automated battery exchange station for heavy-duty trucks.

“The majority of these vehicles are used for journeys of distances which cannot be covered by a single battery charge,” says Stefanie Marker, a professor at the Technical University of Berlin who specializes in driving optimization and accident avoidance. “Haulage companies also can’t afford to lose hours waiting for a battery to charge.”

Marker envisions a network of stations where truck drivers would drive in, exchange batteries and continue on their way. Spent batteries would be automatically removed by a robot and replaced with fully charged batteries.

As part of the three-year project, a battery exchange station is being developed on the south side of Berlin. A pair of test vehicles will be fitted with sensors to record data such as energy consumption of the engine; load and weather conditions; and secondary energy consumption for air conditioning in the driver's cab and trailer.

Marker and her colleagues are currently focusing on challenges such as how to mount and attach batteries to trucks to enable a fast, easy exchange.