The Future Of Trucking | The Starship Initiative

– (booming music) – In my generation, all the guys at 15 and 16 years old were just enamored with cars. (car revving) The brute force of a muscle car, the acceleration, the g-force, the power. (booming music) I can remember as a teenager having a very important race coming up at the drag strip, working literally a 20 hour day. I was dog tired, but it was the nicest feeling of being extremely tired that one could ever imagine, because there was such an amount of achievement that we did in that 20 hours to get the car ready for the race. (booming music) That is directly analogous to what we do today. (booming music) The number one goal is to get the best freight ton efficiency. We want to move several tons of freight, the most we can move on one gallon of fuel. We spent 18,000 hours to put just a tractor together. Anything that you could do to a race car to make it go faster, we’ve done that to this truck to save fuel. If can improve the efficiency of a truck just a little bit, you’re gonna help the ecology, lower emissions, and you’re gonna get a lot better fuel mileage. I’m extremely grateful to Shell that its given me the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t have did this without them. – When the idea first surfaced, it was really born of an exploration into this area around fuel economy. There was a story that stood out to us. And it was it was really the story of Bob Sliwa. We saw him make a big impact, and we thought this is someone we can work with, because he has passion in this space. – Alright, let’s do it. The goal of the trip is to measure freight ton efficiency. – How much energy is it gonna take to move a certain amount of freight from point A to point B? – We don’t have a specific number we’re reaching for, we really just wanna see how good we can be. – One thing that is probably the most underestimated contributor to fuel economy performance is the driver. And it’s Bob Sliwa for us. It’s the role that he plays in maximizing the delivery of that truck in terms of fuel economy. (truck engine humming)
(dramatic music) – [Bob] The journey we’re going to do on a transcontinental run will be from San Diego, California to Jacksonville, Florida. (dramatic music) – I travel with my constant companion, my 12 year old German Shepherd dog, Kayla. Kayla and I are inseparable. We’re together 24 hours a day and we’re just buddies. She’s my buddy it’s a, everybody needs a dog so they have a little bit less stress. (dramatic music) – [Megan] We’re ready to load in with reef material for the Coastal Conversation Association. – It’s as real world as it gets, and we only feel that adds to what the kids call street cred. And that’s how to do it. That’s a safe load. – What interesting about a demonstration vehicle is that little things can go wrong that you wouldn’t expect. – The operational challenges, there’s obviously mountains between here and Arizona. I’m nervous that, you know, we’ve got a pretty tight schedule. No pressure for me, (laughing) right? We just have to get the best hopefully fuel mileage and freight ton efficiency in the world. – [Announcer] Forecast cloudy and windy and cold this morning before warming a bit this afternoon. (truck roaring) – The country is wildly dependent on trucking and transportation for everything. Anything you buy, the piece of paper in your hand, the cameras that we’re using, photography, food everyday in the store, anything that you get comes over the road on a highway in a big truck. (booming music) If somebody pulls next to me with a traditional truck with a 600 horse power motor, if I did want to race them, I would probably beat them and make them cry. There’s so little holding this truck back. This truck is theoretically geared to do 114.5 miles an hour. We wouldn’t go that fast, obviously. But that just means that we can run it at extremely low RPM, and the engine would be so down sped, we’re gonna save a lot of fuel that way. – We put 5,000 watts of solar panels that generate electricity on top of the trailer, We support a full carbon fiber cab, aerodynamic side skirting along the tractor and the trailer, and all the way back to the boat tail managing the air that’s comin’ off the back of the truck. – It is the combination of all those parts that allows this truck to do what we want it to do. (train bells ringing) – [Announcer] Morning warming up a bit this afternoon with a few sunny breaks and diminishing winds. (train roaring) – [Bob] There’s not a cloud in the sky. And it’s about, it feels to me like a hundred degrees out here, but I’m sure it’s not that warm yet. You got to feel proud when you pull into a truck stop and there’s 20 truck drivers with their telephones up taking a picture of you and your truck. – We’ve had a lot of interactions with truckers today. We’re really providing them with some education, talking about the technology that we’ve built onto the Starship Truck. This has been a great opportunity to just start that conversation with truckers around efficiency improvements in their own truck in order to lower CO2 emissions. (chimes ringing) (exciting music) (crowd applauding) – Thank you very much for coming out, spending time with us. What’s next for this truck is an amazing thing, because this is just the beginning of the conversation that we’re trying to drive. The intent of this truck is a laboratory on wheels, a learning space not just for Shell, not just for the AirFlow Truck Company and Bob, but for the industry. – 39,000 pounds, that’s a pretty gosh dang good load of freight. The brochures they’ve seen, the images, the pamphlets, even the video doesn’t really hold a candle to seeing the truck in person. They’re just kinda awe struck, and they can see the physicality of the truck. I think we’re about two thirds of the way. We’ve got just a couple days left and thank God. (Bob laughs) It’s arduous out there on the road sometimes. (radio humming) (truck roaring) Right now we’re in eighteenth gear. We’re doin’ 59 miles an hour. My feet are flat on the floor. And we’re only doin’ 914 RPMs. So it’s very quiet. You can’t even hear the engine. You can just hear the tires. (radio beeps) – [Male] Figure some construction guys kinda working on the right shoulder up here. (radio Beeps) – Five one eight miles exit three four three. Okay here we at about 10 minutes after six, Thursday evening, into Jacksonville. (intense music) (crowd cheering) – How do you feel?
– Good job. – We finally made it! (Megan chuckles) I’m fighting back tears, honestly. Just joy and excitement. (intense music) – So here is to the vision and patience and perseverance, most of all,
– Thank you. – of Bob Sliwa. Congratulations on your run. What an amazing feeling. A labor of love just means you finally got to the point where something really really special has arrived. But now we have a responsibility to make sure it becomes even more than what it is today. (intense music) – I’m extremely proud. Yeah, I mean I’m, (laughs) I’m extremely proud of it and all we’ve accomplished. That’s a significant thing in my book. We’ve took something from nothing, and it came out pretty dang good, if you ask me. (tools snap) (intense music) – [Megan] We wanted to put it to the test in the real world, and we did that. And so now we’re excited to continue on with this, to continue to make improvements. This is the beginning of a conversation. – [Chris] This is just the start, not the end. (intense music)

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