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Truck Stops Get Wireless Internet 287

Posted by simoniker
from the gonna-roll-this-truckin-convoy dept.
Makarand writes "According to SFGate.com, a company called IdleAire Technologies are building high-tech truck stops to provide drivers with air-conditioning, television, Internet access and phone service in truck cabs, so that they can turn off their engines. Trucks will pull into bays, where flexible tubes ending in vents for hot or cold air, and touch sensitive screens for Internet access can be pulled inside the truck's cab. There's also a separate wireless Internet option, where drivers don't have to pull into the bays. The basic services provided cost less than the fuel spent in idling a truck."
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Truck Stops Get Wireless Internet

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  • BigTrux91: "hey, ASL?"
    XoRigChikoX: "43/f/truck stop, u?"
    BigTrux91: "lol, same"
    XoRigChikoX: "im just takin a break, haulin a shipment of lawn chairs from kentucky to los an-ghi-lees"
    JenLiveCam9113: "Live sex cams, click here!"
    BigTrux91: "wanna cyber?"
    XoRigChickoX: "mmm, show me ur exhaust pipe"
    BigTrux91: "::steps out of truck, removes pants::"

    sorry....
  • by jabbadabbadoo (599681) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:13PM (#6214565)
    Truck drivers may become geeks, hence reducing the efficency of our infrastructure.

    So, in a few years time, if that package you ordered takes a loooong time to get delivered... you know why. The friggin' truck driver is reading /.

  • Convoy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spector30 (319592) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:13PM (#6214570) Homepage
    So with the wireless access can you use all the trucks on the road as a rolling wireless relay system? If so that would be cool. Sure puts the old CB system to shame.
    • Re:Convoy! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Igor47 (557180)
      OH MY GOD!

      Good point. I just had this image in my head of a map with little red dots moving everywhere representing nodes on an ad hoc network...that would be so awsome!

      there are probably enough trucks in any metropolitan area to sustain a connection. Certainly, if you drive around LA you'll run into a few trucks ever couple of blocks, making deliveries. if every one of these trucks had a wireless access card, a blanket of wireless coverage would decend accross the city....
  • by kyoko21 (198413) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:13PM (#6214572)
    Wow. That's pretty cool. If a trucker can get internet access, maybe those who are unemployed should look into those trucking schools. Some of the truckers I have heard make $40/hour. Not too shabby.
    • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:15PM (#6214589)
      lol...

      yeh, if your idea of a good job is working 20 hour days cracked out on meth, keeping 2 books and being on the road for months at a time, its great.

      • yeh, if your idea of a good job is working 20 hour days cracked out on meth, keeping 2 books and being on the road for months at a time, its great

        Sounds like some of the road-warrior types I've met in recent years...

        :-)
    • $40 per hour is not the norm,only if you are in Alaska or hauling very hazardable materials.When I was a trucker hauling gasoline/diesel in the bay area,was making $15 which is the norm
      • A friend of mine is currently driving and gets around 35 cents / mile. That ends up being around $21/hour. Much less than $40/hr, but slightly more than your $15. That's hauling non-hazmats in the midwest (Wisconsin).
  • Drive-ins (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bubblegoose (473320) <bubblegooseNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:13PM (#6214573) Homepage Journal
    The system itself works, in some ways, like a car speaker at a drive-in movie theater.

    How many people are going to get that reference? The drive-ins have been gone from Eastern PA for around 10+ years now. The cheap porno one was the last to go in this area, and for years before that they broadcast their signal over low power AM.

    Boy, am I feeling old right now.
    • Some of us are *gasp* old enough to have actually attended a drive-in movie! :)

      I got that reference, but it is odd to think that there are probably millions of people out there now who never would, and probably never will...
    • I'm not dead yet (Score:3, Informative)

      by kiwimate (458274)
      There are still a few left [driveintheater.com], you know.

      And, for the benefit of those of you who don't live in PA, look here [driveintheater.com].
    • How many people are going to get that reference?

      Man, I hated those things. Terrible idea. The speaker sat right next to dad's ear, so of course he'd turn down the volume to a point the rest of us couldn't hear a thing. Much better when they started broadcasting the audio track on the radio(back in the 80's?)

      Ah, the memories of drive-ins with my high school sweetheart... we'd back into the spot, fold down the rear seats, be nice and comfy with pillows and blankets... and halfway through the show we'd g
  • Schweet!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcgroarty (633843) <brian.mcgroartyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:14PM (#6214574) Homepage
    Sounds like all I need!

    How much to just park a big cardboard box next to a tube?

  • by prhodes (625766) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:14PM (#6214577)
    The local Flying J's truckstop has been advertising wireless access for about a month - I don't think it has the a/c stuff set up - no bays. At any rate, are there really that many truckers hauling around laptops?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...are there really that many truckers hauling around laptops?

      You'd be surprised. A single application such as Map Point might well justify the cost of a laptop, if it can show a driver a more efficient route to his destination. Considering how much fuel a big rig burns per mile, it's not hard to imagine at all.


      SVM, ERGO MONSTRO

      • Even more important, many operators use laptops and online marketplaces to line up backhaul opportunities, to minimize their downtime and reduce the number of times they drive around with the trailer empty (thus not making $$$).
    • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:25PM (#6214694) Homepage
      At any rate, are there really that many truckers hauling around laptops?

      I don't know, but honestly, this is one occupational demographic that can really use wireless internet.

      Consider that they've developed an intricate code-oriented language for use over CB radios. (They've been heavily into the "wireless communications" thing for decades, if you look at it in that light.)

      Consider that a trucker has both a financial and personal safety interest in knowing things like nationwide weather forecasts, traffic reports, and navigational systems. These people really do rely heavily on knowing where that snowstorm is going, or hearing about the multi-car accident on their projected route through a busy city at rush hour.

      Consider that trucking can be an amazingly lonely occupation, and the ability to communicate with people is incredibly valuable. Truckers got spouses and families. How else are you going to get your e-mail, complete with photo attachments of little Johnny doing something cute? Would you prefer some half-assed, run-down attempt at a pay kiosk in the middle of the truck stop, or your own personal system in the privacy of your own cab?

      Networking has been part of trucking for decades. In many ways, this is the next logical step.

    • I Know about 9 truckers that are very into tech toys. most of the indepentant ones are just as dependant on pc as your normal techy. Dont assume based on stereotypes.
    • ...are there really that many truckers hauling around laptops?

      Yes,
      Particularly among the owner/operator crowd (a large subset of truckers...) these folks are running a business out of their truck...
    • At any rate, are there really that many truckers hauling around laptops?

      Yes. And they use the Internet to coordinate load pickups.
    • I have known a few truckers who work their own rigs. (As opposed to driving in a fleet.) First off, a good long-distance truck driver can make a reasonable sum of money. Not that of an Enron CEO, but enough to buy a laptop and not sweat it. Secondly, most of them are very high-tech as it is. If you have ever seen the inside of a modern cab, you would know. The people I know spend a lot of time planning the route in such a way to use the least fuel/tolls as possible.

      So I think wireless internet would be a b
      • Then why not go with Sprint's always on internet option for your laptop? At 80$ per month it's not bad for a constant high bandwidth companion. If you can figure out how to do voice over it your in great shape. All the basics of the web would work quite well...faster than dial up that's for sure.
  • w00t (Score:4, Funny)

    by CausticWindow (632215) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:15PM (#6214598)

    And all the Slashdot truck drivers rejoice!

    (I've been a truck driver, but I don't think there's many of us here)

    • So have I...but not long haul. Mostly triaxles. I was definitely the only one with a laptop and GPS in the cab, which I got crap for at first. That is until the first time the turnpike was closed down and I immediately had an alternate route. ;)
  • I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:17PM (#6214617) Homepage Journal
    how much it costs to run one of those engines per hour? fuel wise, obviously the real cost would depend on the cost of fuel.
    • $62.50 ... duno if that was to fill up both tanks or not.

      Hm, not much more than filling up a Hummer, eh?

      How much per hour, though... duno.

      Mike.
      • $62.50 ... duno if that was to fill up both tanks or not.
        That would barely fill the fuel lines. He might have been buying just enough to get a free shower.

        Standard tanks on interstate rigs hold 150 gallons each. $362.50 would probably be the average fillup.

        • He might have been buying just enough to get a free shower.

          Yeah, I've run into truckers and I think they'd even turn down a free shower.

          I think it might disturb their natural protective coat, much like the oils in your hand when you touch a baby bird.
      • Hell, my F-150 could cost that much when gas prices spiked... granted, I have a 38 gallon tank, but still.
    • Also, remember the wear and tear cost of running the engine.

      • I would imagine that the wear an tear of running an engine at an idle would be fairly negligable when compared to the million miles+ the engine will get over the lifetime. Keeping a battery charged and running the AC compressor isn't too much of a load. I would be more concerned about the fuel costs.
  • Saw a "Flying J" truckstop advertising on its big flashy sign "high-speed wireless internet" ... I woulda pulled out my Zaurus and checked it out (possibly it's something like what T-Mobile does with Starbucks?), but well, you know. That whole driving bit.

    Mike.
  • ... a freekin hotel room ...

    IANATD, but I think the one thing I'd be worried about as a truck driver is getting some sleep, moreso than getting online.

    To me it just seems pretty economical and safer to just get a hotel room, grab some sleep, and a nice warm shower.

    Hey just me, but this seems like a good idea, but truck drivers pull off to rest stops to pee, get some caffiene, or because they're exhausted. They go to bars and strip clubs for entertainment.

    that was meant to be a joke ...

    • IANATD, but I think the one thing I'd be worried about as a truck driver is getting some sleep, moreso than getting online.
      Actually, with the federally mandated downtime, you can end up with quite a bit of time (dozens of hours) on your hands nowhere near home. If you're in a tractor you've spent over $150,000 on, it's gonna be cheaper and more comfortable to stay in your own rig. More secure, too.

    • IANATD, but I think the one thing I'd be worried about as a truck driver is getting some sleep, moreso than getting online. To me it just seems pretty economical and safer to just get a hotel room, grab some sleep, and a nice warm shower. Hey just me, but this seems like a good idea, but truck drivers pull off to rest stops to pee, get some caffiene, or because they're exhausted. They go to bars and strip clubs for entertainment.

      IANATDE, but I don't think they sleep in hotel rooms all the time. That i

  • by Squarewav (241189) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:21PM (#6214656)
    a few truck companies already have a basic wireless internet setup, its a small blackberry like device that only communicates with the head office, lets truckers email friends and famly, and basic text based web. It can be used about everyware from truck stops to rest sites
  • by haa...jesus christ (576980) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:21PM (#6214658)
    Good, now truck drivers can run Windows Update for their Navitron Overdrives (semi-obscure Simpsons reference).
  • Top 10 Uses (Score:2, Funny)

    by grub (11606)

    Top 10 Uses for Internet at Truckstops

    #10 IM'ing the "ol' lady" back home in the trailer park.
    #9 IM'ing the "ol' lady" at the next trailer park up the road.
    #8 Checking if bobshaircuts.com in Topeka will treat your mullet with respect.
    #7 pr0n, pr0n, pr0n!
    #6 Ordering cigarettes from marlborough.com.
    #5 Ordering beer from schlitz.com
    #4 Getting refill blades from hairybackrazors.com
    #3 Ordering truckstop hookers.
    #2 Checking subscription at maxim.com
    drum roll
    #1 Checking the NRA homepage!
    • Re:Top 10 Uses (Score:3, Informative)

      by benzapp (464105)
      #5 Ordering beer from schlitz.com

      I have to say, for $2.00 a six pack, Schlitz is a mighty good beer. Especially with that lemonny goodnesss... mmmmmm

      Lets not forget it was the #1 beer in America for nearly a century, as well as the beer that made Milwaukee famous!

      Don't knock schlitz
    • Re:Top 10 Uses (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Monday June 16, 2003 @03:01PM (#6215133)
      This may be an attempt to be funny. But some truck drivers actually get decent pay I have seen up to 60k a year. Depending on what you carry. Most truck drivers arnt actually the typical Red Necks that they are normally portraid. A lot of them are indepent buisness owners and take care of their buisness on the road. If you actually looked at some of the Tractors Trailers out their some of them are really nice with sleeping quarters and tables fridge and microwave. A person can actually live comfortable in these tractors.
  • good budy net (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bubba-T (578601) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:22PM (#6214669)
    There going to provide HVAC, internet and telephone for what it takes to idle the truck?
    When I drove, It cost about 2gal for the night of idling, Around here thats less than $3. Not much room for profit and maintance.

    On top of that its not going to work well in the midwest winters. Drivers dont have another 2hours to warm up the engine when its real cold outside.
    So now they have to idle all night as well as pay the network fee.

    hmmm...
  • Convoy 2003 (Score:5, Funny)

    by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:25PM (#6214692)


    It was on slow AOL that worked like hell

    With a sysadmin pullin' logs

    Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
    And Jimmy, both bandwidth hogs

    We's headin' for bear on Tee-One-Oh
    'bout a mile outta Cupertino
    I says "Pigpensource, this here's Cyber Duck"
    "And I'm about to plug the USB, you know?"

    ('cause we got a little ole convoy networkin' thru the night)

    (Yeah, we got a little ole convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?)

    (Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our way)
    (We gonna roll this truckin' convoy 'cross the USA)
    (Convoy)

    By the time we got into Tulsa-town we had 85 trucks they say
    But they's a roadblock up on the cloverleaf
    With Hillary from the RIAA

    Cuz Pete used his hard disk as an MP3 dumper

    They even had a bear in the air
    I says "Callin' all trucks, this here's the Duck"
    "We about to go a-huntin' bear"
    ye, 'bye
    "
  • by pen (7191) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:28PM (#6214737)
    Company to Deploy Docking Stations for Trucks
  • Won't change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HogGeek (456673) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:29PM (#6214748)
    I used to work with a trucker in the summers delivering farm equipment. He had told me that the reason truckers don't "shutdown" the truck was because it was too hard on the engine. Nothing to do with AC or anything else. Semi engines run for 500,000 + miles typically without any work other than routine service (i.e oil change)


    So while wireless internet may be a "value add", I don't see the bays being used by long distance OTR drivers, unless things have changed.

  • so they can go in the back trailer and, and um... surf with privacy.
  • Snow Crash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maimon495 (649701) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:31PM (#6214774)
    If I remember correctly, this was described almost the same way in Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" - though I forget the name of the make- believefranchise. This is the spread of the "techno-sprawl" into middle America. Pretty soon every franchise will let you get into the net (Free .5 hour of wireless with your big mac). I'm not sure if truck-drivers are the key demographic, but the question is what else can that infrastructure be leveraged for
  • ...that "lot lizards" will become a thing of the past? Why should truck drivers pay scraggly women who hang out at truck stops for services when they can get much better looking pr0n without leaving the driver's seat? Will they include a tube for restroom facilities, or at least a box of tissues for cleanup afterwards?
  • Wetnaps? (Score:2, Funny)

    by withak53 (463555)
    They may want to include wetnaps to wipe off the keyboard after the truckers are done.
  • by RevMike (632002) <revMike.gmail@com> on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:32PM (#6214789) Journal
    An interesting discussion about Truck-Stop Electrification [about.com] in order to reduce the envrinmental impact of idling.
  • Truck Stops Get Wireless Internet

    Translation:

    Truckers to get wireless access to pr0n in the comfort of their own cab
  • by 4/3PI*R^3 (102276) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:33PM (#6214803)
    Part of why truck drivers leave their trucks running is because it is a real pain in the ass trying to start a large diesel engine. Diesel needs a lot of compression and high temperature to ignite. This is why you never hear of diesel spill fires -- diesel won't burn at atmospheric pressure at ambient temperature.

    The vapor temperature is about 150 degrees Farenheit, it's ignition temperature for liquid is about 450 degrees Farenheit at 1 atmosphere. The vapor point allows the vapors to burn quickly causing a flash but diesel can't sustain combustion. So to burn diesel as a fuel you need a lot of heat or a lot of pressure (see Chuck's Law -- P=k*T)

    When it is cold it is really difficult to start a diesel engine. This is why people with diesel engines get electric engine heaters installed.

    This is a really cool idea, but I doubt many truck drivers would turn off their engines, especially if it is cold outside. So this really won't be a cost saver for most trucking companies. As such, I doubt many trucking companies will spend money for this service as there data needs are quite minimal and there are more than adequate satellite data services already available for routing and driver auditing that are accessible anywhere in the country -- not just at truck stops.

    This will be nothing more than a drive by porn d/l sight for the truck drivers. And many Flying J's are already offering internet access already anyway so whats the point?
    • As a matter of fact, diesel will burn at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatute (although not well). I have used it to light bonfires as recently as last month.

      Your equation looks cool, but I can tell you that when I pour it over a pile of logs and hold a match to it, it lights.
  • by billmaly (212308) <bill.maly@mcleodus[ ]et ['a.n' in gap]> on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:36PM (#6214843)
    In cold weather, diesel engines need to be kept warm, or they won't start again until spring. So, part of the reason they are never shut off is so that the truck can continue running that winter.

    I suspect that most modern semi/long haul rigs are fairly efficient beasts anyway. A better effort would be directed at cleaning up the emissions from short haul/local trucks. Get behind a dump truck at a stop light sometime, watch the black cloud that it belches out as it gets under way. Multiply that time 1000+ stoplights and you'll see how much pollutuon those trucks pump out.
    • That's why 99.999999999999% of Diesel engines have a warmer you plug into a 120v outlet when it get's really cold out to keep the block warm without having to idle it.

      Look for the three prog plug behind the front grill of almost every diesel car.
    • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday June 16, 2003 @03:06PM (#6215212) Homepage
      In cold weather, diesel engines need to be kept warm, or they won't start again until spring.
      Cute statement, but not quite accurate.

      We lived in Anchorage, AK. We had a diesel Rabbit (similar to this one [americandreamcars.com] (ours had been in snow for starters!)) Yes, it had a plug to plug it in to keep it warm overnight, but even if you forgot it one night, it would still start, even if it was -20 degrees F outside (-20 degrees F is rare in Anchorage, but it does happen.) It would be hard to start, but it would start.

      (You did not say `diesel truck engines'. You said `diesel engines', so my anectdotal evidence, even though it's not a `diesel truck engine', does apply.)

      Note that diesel freezes when you get much below -20 F. The exact temperature varies, and usually when you buy diesel in a place that is is really cold, it's formulated (I think they add benzyne) to freeze at a colder temperature than what you'd buy in Texas. But eventually as things get colder and colder, you'll run into temperatures where your fuel will gel or freeze if you turn off your truck overnight. This is probably what you're thinking of -- but it's got to be REALLY cold.

      (These trucks must have some sort of heating element to keep the fuel tank warm. I wouldn't think that merely keeping the engine warm somewhere near the tank would be enough.)

      • Teeny weenie VW diesels and the slighly bigger Mercedes engines all have prechambers with indirect fuel injection and glowplugs. Much easier to start in cold weather than bigrigs with _direct_ injection, most of which don't have glowplugs.

        Besides, diesels idle very efficiently (if a little noisy). I'd be surprised if they used more than 1 gal/hr.

        And as things get cold, you need to worry more about the battery. Battery electric blankets are essential around -40.

  • by donutz (195717) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:40PM (#6214888) Homepage Journal
    This sounds like a feature that one of these top ten truck stops [discovery.com] already has, or better, if it wants to stay on that list!

    I know that I'm glad these truckers are getting a little pampering...God knows how many goods in the United States are shipped via the big rigs...thanks truckers!
  • Sounds cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by dfn5 (524972) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:45PM (#6214951) Journal
    Now how do I get a truck stop placed next to my house? 56K dialup sucks.

  • by Estevan (454147) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:46PM (#6214956)
    You mean to tell me that a 290lb trucker with a dragon tatoo on his back, a well groomed mullet, and a girlfriend named Candy in each Flying J accross the midwest will have broadband WiFi before I do?

    WTF?!?!
  • by RedLeg (22564) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:49PM (#6214992) Journal
    A couple of points of information:

    • Trucks idle overnight rather than shutdown/restart to decrease engine wear. The engine is the single most expensive component, and actually wears very little when running, particularly when under a light load (idle) because of the circulation of lubricant under pressure. At startup, there is typically metal-on-metal contact inside the engine until the oil pressure comes up. Supplying power and heat for the occupant is secondary.
    • Truckstops already are very communications friendly places, and always have been. The long-haul trucking community has been a heavy user of the available technology as it advanced, and truckstops have advanced from providing banks of pay phones to more modern technologies for their use, just as airports have for the use of business travelers. It is not unusual today to see telephones with dataports, and increasingly net jacks in individual booths in truckstop restaurants. The drivers bring their notebooks, jack in and call home, either to their SO or to the company.
    • Flying-J, a national chain of truckstops, is deploying wi-fi hotspots in parking areas nationwide, and offering suprisingly affordable subscription rates. This means drivers can get access from the computers in their sleepers, and not have to bring them into the terminal.

    This community of PAYING users probably stands a greater chance of advancing the widespread deployment of public access hotspots than any other. They actually NEED the access it provides, and are willing to pay for it.
  • by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Monday June 16, 2003 @03:09PM (#6215247)
    Encouraging truckers to shut down their engines during their downtime has to reduce air pollution considerably. I once drove a diesel van from DC to Iowa and back with a friend. We stopped to sleep at a truck stop in Ohio. After about 1/2 hour we had to leave the truck stop because we couldn't breathe. The fumes from all the idling trucks were beyond belief.

    I don't know how the truckers can stand it. Maybe their insides are so well coated with truck-stop food grease that the fumes couldn't get through.
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Monday June 16, 2003 @03:29PM (#6215460)
    They found jobs driving trucks.

    Who else would be demanding wireless internet from a truck cab?!?

  • by Chriscypher (409959) <slashdot@nOSPaM.metamedia.us> on Monday June 16, 2003 @03:41PM (#6215557) Homepage
    I worked on this project.

    Yes, the service module (the thing you stick in your cab window) is built atop a roll-your-own Linux implementation. The enclosure is novel (in order to handle air conditioning/heating/other services, but the boards are primarily off-the-shelf.

    In our research, not many truckers have laptops and those that do rarely have ethernet (most use dialup). The system is capable of handling web-browsing entirely via touchscreen, but this was not implemented for some reason.
  • by aquarian (134728) on Monday June 16, 2003 @04:01PM (#6215763)
    I'm laughing pretty hard at all these junior high school science class explanations of how diesel engines work, and even harder at the attempts to explain the trucking business!

    It is true that diesels are hard to start when it's cold, particularly older ones. But it's definatly not difficult when it's not cold, and newer engines have block heaters and fuel system heaters which allow normal starts below 0F. More significant is that diesels don't produce full power until warmed up, and they take a long time to do that when it's cold. Again, newer engines are much better in this respect. Another issue is cooling down properly after a long, hard climb, which can take an hour of idling or more. So yes, truckers must *occasionally* keep their motors running for these reasons.

    More likely, though, is that they're running their engines for generator power, so they can run their microwave ovens, televisions, and yes, laptops. Truckers also like to sleep warm like everyone else, and their cab heaters run off their engines just like the ones in your car.

    This pollutes a lot, but not as much as you might think. Diesels burn *very* little fuel at idle.

    But put a lot of them in one place, and they can create quite a cloud. The noise is a problem too, particularly if the truckstop isn't in the middle of nowhere. So the authorities are cracking down, and the solution is to provide auxiliary plug-in power at truckstops, like RV parks do. Truckers can then run their appliances, use electric cabin heaters, and use block heaters to keep their engines warm at night -- without worrying about keeping their batteries charged.

    But what happens when they're away from a truckstop with power? Well, newer trucks are being equipped with small auxiliary diesel generators, like those used in boats and RVs. (Many cabs are a lot like RVs.) These generators run quietly and produce much less pollution. And believe it or not, even fuel cells are being developed for this application.

    And yes, truckers *do* use laptops, and the internet, extensively. This is not news -- truckers were some of the earliest of early adopters. Slashdotters marvel at the logistics/IT of companies like Fedex, but assume the rest of the transportation industry is still in the stone age. This is absurd. Besides personal communication and entertainment, the 'net has become a business necessity for truckers -- they're plugged into giant databases of goods that need to be moved, and bid for jobs as they go. Not to mention using computers for everyday business needs like the rest of us do -- bookkeeping, word processing, document management, etc. Keep in mind that a very high percentage of truckers are independent businessmen, franchisees, or small operators with a few trucks. Having access to the same technology as the big boys, at very low cost, is what allows them to compete at all.
  • Clarity (Score:3, Informative)

    by zugzug2 (681950) on Monday June 16, 2003 @04:33PM (#6216115)
    Just a couple of notes to set the record straight.

    1.) Average truck MPG currently in our fleet is 5.45 MPG
    2.) Our calculations estimate that the average hour of idling takes about 1 gal of fuel. DOE figures estimate the cost of fuel for period ending 6/16 as $1.43 gal.
    3.) 1/3 of our drivers carry personal laptop computers.
    4.) Over 3/4 of our drivers use or have used email when at home.
    5.) Qualcom (the satellite communication option mentioned by someone) is expensive...check that...beyond expensive. Most plans have a kb charge associated with data transfer.
    6.) While wear and tear of an engine is an issue, our current experience with the usage of idle-air is that it's a bit pricey for our units to use every night.

    We are actually currently dealing with an owner-operator (truck driver who owns his truck but hauls cargo for our company)who will go over 50+ miles out of route just to stop at an idle-air truckstop when he is near one.

    There is a big opportunity for a large-scale wireless provider to make inroads into truckstops, and major shipping and receiving centers. As a developer in the trucking industry, the #1 problem that we fight from a software development perspective is connectivity into our headquarters.
    Wireless phone providers advertise âoedata solutionsâ, but having investigated most of those claims, the connections are only available in large metro areas, and poorly supported.
    Weâ(TM)re closely watching the developments in wireless Internet at truckstops. If this becomes a widely available option and is relatively hassle-free to connect (can we hard code one connection profile for all sites), then weâ(TM)ll most likely utilize it.
    The connection issue is going to be a sticky oneâ¦Itâ(TM)s not like we have CNEâ(TM)s in the cab.

    Just my $0.02

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