In order to make them more fuel efficient and aerodynamic, airplanes have winglets (curved structures) at the wing tips to reduce drag. ATDynamics are hoping that this same engineering trick will also work on the ground. The company has outfitted trucks with a TrailerTail to do exactly that. The clever device simply protrudes about four feet from the back doors of a tractor-trailer and reshapes the vortex left behind it while its in motion, and it decreases a truck’s fuel consumption by 6 percent.
Andrew Smith, the founder and chief executive of ATDynamics, designed the product after studying the dynamics of wind of trucks. The 6 percent decrease in fuel consumption is equal to eight gallons per 1,000 miles traveled. Considering that your average logistics or haulage truck can travel more than 200,000 miles a year at six or seven miles a gallon, the savings could equate to a car driver’s yearly fuel supply.
Made from ordinary-looking plastic composite and metal tubing and springs, the TrailerTail is able to pushed flat against the back of a truck. When the door is open, the device simply lies flush against the truck’s side.
Considering that the EPA is set to issue fuel economy standards for trucks mirroring those that have been in place for cars since the 1970s, any device that can make them for efficient is sure to be embraced.