Will the tractor trailer of the future look like something out of a science fiction movie? Most likely, as aerodynamics continue to be critical due to fuel costs. Current add-ons, such as wind deflectors, trailer skirts, and boat tails reduce fuel usage. Until recently, aerodynamics was an afterthought, but the future hauler will be aerodynamically designed. Designs such as the Volvo Ant, Josh Shercliff’s 2030 Long Haul Concept, or the MAN super streamlined semi-truck will be the norm, not the exception.
Driver comfort — Considering the industry-wide driver shortage, combined with the looming massive retirement of truck driving boomers, creature comforts aimed at younger drivers will become standard. Ergonomics, driver environment, and technology will be offered to attract new young drivers to the industry. Custom fitted seats, computer interfaces, and dashboards designed for the driver’s ease of operation will all be part of the future truck.
Alternative fuels — Fuels other than gasoline and diesel are considered alternative. There are many alternate fuels, including hydrogen, alcohol, propane, and coal derivatives, but the most likely alternative fuels of the future are:
• Alcohols – ethanol and methanol
• Natural gas CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas)
• Electricity – Electric power will also be combined with other fuels
• Biodiesel – Made from soybean, corn, and other plants
Safety — The truck of the future will not only be designed with crash safety in mind, but with crash prevention as well. Using cameras to improve night vision and eliminate blind spots will lessen the chance of driver error. Driver fatigue will be monitored, and procedures for driver intervention will help keep drivers in unsafe physical condition off the road.
Other features of the future truck will include improved tracking, navigation, and load management. The truck of the future will incorporate newer alloys, carbons, and plastics, which will make it lighter and stronger. Overall, the tractor trailer of the future will be safer, more comfortable, more tech friendly, and get better fuel mileage than the truck of today. Are you in the trucking industry? What would you like to see on the truck of the future?