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Transportation

Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the corpone-brotch-approved dept.
cartechboy writes "It's no secret that semi trucks use a lot of fuel. Moving that amount of mass along at highway speeds takes a lot of power. But Walmart might have just unveiled the semi truck of the future with its WAVE concept truck. This crazy looking semi features an aerodynamic cab and looks like no other truck on the road. The driver sits in the center of the cab and the steering wheel is flanked by LCD screens instead of conventional gauges. The WAVE concept is powered by a range-extended electric powertrain consisting of a Capstone micro-turbine and an electric motor. To reduce weight the entire truck including the trailer is made of carbon fiber. The 53-foot side panels on the trailer are said to be the first single pieces of carbon fiber that large ever produced. The result? A trailer that weighs around 4,000 pounds less than a conventional one. While Walmart says it has no plans to produce the WAVE concept, one has to wonder if this is a look at what semis of the future will be like."
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Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck

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  • Re:Trailer strength (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chas (5144) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:44PM (#46392093) Homepage Journal

    Aluminum siding vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up.
    Plastic siding vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up.
    Carbon fiber vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up AND costs 5x as much to repair...

  • Overhead Power - (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:52PM (#46392153)

    Trains on their own can't solve the last-mile problems that trucks do solve. On the other hand, we've had more than a century of experience with overhead power, which can be made safe, efficient, and inexpensive with today's technology. This has been applied to buses numerous times. It absolutely can be applied to trucks and made very safe through switching systems. (Only supplying power to a segment of the line when a vehicle is on it, shutting down immediately when a short or mechanical failure is detected, and so forth.) Obviously there are design challenges: The truck has to be able to change lanes, and attach and detach from the overhead freely. Those challenges are anything but insurmountable and could enable trucks and buses that, once attached to the overhead, never need to stop to refuel. They only travel with their own energy supply (whether it's an ICE or a battery) when they're not on the highway where the lines are available, eliminating the need for depot facilities and maintaining the flexibility that trucks and buses provide.

    That's still a half-way solution. Ultra-light rail using mass produced, modular infrastructure would be ideal and could probably use the same rights of way that highways occupy. The same category of vehicle described above could also be used, and put into its own isolated (and probably elevated) 'lane' where it drives on autopilot and entirely with overhead power until it reaches an exit and gets back on the road. (An extra set of wheels attached to existing axles, made to mount a rail, would be needed.) We already know that modern rail systems require far less maintenance than asphalt roads and we also know that trucks are a massive safety hazard on the highway. This road-to-rail approach would solve those problems along with electrifying the long highway stretches of truck shipping and passenger busing.

    Good luck funding that, though.

  • by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:26PM (#46392437)
    I work in a small grocery store, and I assure you, even our delivery trucks don't go back empty. from our small store, at the very least, two bales of cardboard weighing about 500 lbs each go back on, along with dozens of bags of plastic for recycle, pallet size cooler boxes, along with a few stacks of pallets from the previous load. More than once I have seen the driver arrange the load so the all heavy stuff (the paper bales and pallets) where on the left side of the trailer, and the light stuff on the right. When I asked him about it, he told me that the forecast called for crosswinds to be from the left on the way home, and he was arranging the trailer to keep it from tipping. Decent truck drivers know all about wind, and how to compensate for it.
  • by Above (100351) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:38PM (#46392549)

    It's actually worse than that, and only begins to look at the problem.

    Railroads own their own right of way, which means property, which means they pay property tax! They are also required by mandate to upgrade to any new safety standards the government dictates.

    Neither apply to roads. The government owns the land the roads are built on, and exempts itself from tax. If a road safety standard is updated, existing roads are grandfathered in until they next time they are rebuilt.

    Add in the fact that state and local government subsidize roads out of general tax revenue coffers, and use tax-free government bonds to finance them and railroads are at a significant financial disadvantage in the US. That's why they can only compete on large volume, bulk commodities. Want millions of tons of coal for a power plant? Well, even though they have to eat all those costs it's more efficient. Want to stock a Walmart? The cost of the spur to it would never be made back.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:27PM (#46393645)
    If they were truely automated, I don't think such behavior would be written in. Target would be happy to tailgate Wal-Mart. Save $100 in fuel at Wal-Mart's expense.

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