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Airflow Starship: Dispatch Training Grads Brace for This New Fuel Efficient Truck

Published on May 24, 2018 by in Blog
Fuel costs are a constant concern for the transportation industry

Fuel costs are a constant concern for the transportation industry

Fuel efficiency is a primary concern for all auto manufacturers, but the trucking industry must pay it particular attention. US stats reveal that medium and heavy-duty trucks contribute almost one quarter of all transportation emissions, despite only accounting for five percent of total traffic on the road. Fuel costs are an expensive outlay for transportation companies, so any technological advances to reduce such expenditure would be welcomed.

That’s why oil company Shell has teamed up with the Airflow Truck Company to create ‘The Starship Initiative’. This has been self-proclaimed as a “hyper-aerodynamic, super fuel-efficient class 8 concept truck”, and its striking design certainly will grab attention. Here’s a guide on the engineering which could make this a game changer in the transportation industry.

Starship Relies Heavily on Aerodynamics for Fuel Efficiency

Members of the general public would be forgiven for thinking that this truck floats across the road, such is the interesting design of the Starship. Side skirts have been placed over the trailer wheels in order to reduce rear-end drag, and the cab is made from 100% hyper-aerodynamic carbon fiber, which is light but very strong.

Check it out in this short clip:


Radiator grills at the front of a vehicle are a hindrance to aerodynamics, because they trap air to allow the engine to function properly. The engine doesn’t need air at all times, however, so the Starship features a novel idea which has been interesting students in dispatch schools. Active grill shutters open to allow air under the hood, but it closes when cooling isn’t needed. This allows air to travel around the exterior of the vehicle, thus reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency.

Renewable Energy Helps to Save Fuel Costs on the Starship Truck

It’s not easy to spot from ground level, but the Starship contains a 5,000-watt solar array on the roof of the trailer. This doesn’t, however, power an electric motor, but instead reduces fuel costs in different ways. The power generated for the 48-volt battery bank in the truck allows the vehicle’s electrical equipment to function. Lights, windshield wipers, and air conditioning are among the many items which are powered through renewable energy.

A hybrid electric axle system offers a power boost on challenging climbs when more fuel is used. And an automatic tire inflation system means that tire pressure is consistently kept at optimum levels. These electric features are balanced with some new non-renewable technology too. Shell has developed a range of dedicated products, including engine oil and exhaust fluid which contribute to continued high performance over many thousands of kilometers.

Starship’s Potential Impact on Future Grads of Dispatch School

It’s important to stress that the Starship is just a concept. The phrase ‘Join The Conversation’ is printed on the side of the trailer, and the potentially groundbreaking ideas are interesting for anybody in a dispatch career. No plans for widespread production have been announced so far, but public awareness is being raised through promotional events.

The release of this concept truck comes not long after Tesla’s introduction of an electric model last year. The Tesla Semi, which promises an 800km range, has already prompted interest from some mega US companies, and production starts in 2019. As the new Starship and future Semi show, the future is getting greener for the transportation industry and the professionals who work within it!

Become a transportation expert during dispatch training.

Check out CATI for more program details.

 
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