A snow plow design from Western Star's Vocational Truck of the Future design challenge. 
 - Photo: Western Star

A snow plow design from Western Star's Vocational Truck of the Future design challenge. 

Photo: Western Star

A plow that inhales snow and turns it into vapor rather than pushing it aside. A crane truck with an electro-translucent roof that goes from solid to clear at the push of a button for better visibility. A diesel engine that slides out from the engine compartment for easier access.

These can’t be found yet at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) dealerships, but they might be someday. These concepts are among the highlights of the Vocational Truck of the Future Challenge, a collaboration between DTNA and ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles.

DTNA challenged transportation design students to consider the needs of vocational customers in 2030 and beyond – and design trucks to meet those needs. The winners of the challenge will be announced by DTNA at the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show (NACV).

“Through this challenge, we tapped into some of the brightest minds in transportation design to gain new and different perspectives on what vocational trucks might look like in the future,” said Samantha Parlier, vice president of marketing and strategy for Western Star. “Two of these students have already started internships with DTNA, and we’re excited for the opportunity to incorporate some of this bold thinking into our long-term vocational strategy.”

This wasn’t just an exercise in drawing futuristic-looking vehicles. The students examined the challenges that vocational truck operators face today and considered how the industry and those challenges will evolve.

A mixer design from Western Star's Vocational Truck of the Future design challenge. 
 - Photo: Western Star

A mixer design from Western Star's Vocational Truck of the Future design challenge. 

Photo: Western Star

The students took a deep dive into every aspect of the industry, driver experience and the vehicle, and considered innovations such as connectivity, electrification and more that will continue to impact the transportation industry. They used a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including dealer meetings, driver interviews, on-site visits and social media to gain a deep understanding of the industry.

The results are unique and intriguing:

  • Snowplows clear the roads, but they also throw snow, ice and rocks while creating walls of snow along the sides of the road. One student designed a plow that inhales snow in the front and uses an infrared heating unit to vaporize it. No debris, no walls.
  • Moveable chutes and drums are a safety hazard for drivers of cement mixers. The solution: all controls for truck and mixer are inside the cab and passenger space is turned into a platform, ladder and hatch for better visibility and safety.
  • See-through A-pillars on crane trucks for better visibility.   

For a greater glimpse of what the future could hold, visit the DTNA booth (#611) at NACV Oct. 28-31, where many of the model trucks will be displayed.

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