What Will Trucks Look Like In The Future?

Remember Back to the Future Part II? That future time imagined in the 1989 film—with personal hoverboards and automatic shoelaces—was supposed to be here already. The movie takes place in 2015.

Isn’t it funny watching old movies or reading old articles about the future, just to laugh at how wrong the predictions were? On the other hand, it’s fascinating and somewhat creepy when a past mind actually gets things right. For instance, there are now murmurs of the fabled hoverboard’s actual existence.

We thought it would be interesting to think about what a future truck might look like. Could it run entirely on solar energy? Might it drive itself, with the trucker serving as more of a general operator? Perhaps, like the hoverboard, a future truck will float above the road, free of wheels, or any moving parts at all.

So, we’ll admit that these features might be a little far-off, if they even arrive at all. But news from earlier this year involving a somewhat unlikely company painted a more realistic picture of what type of truck we might be driving in the not-too-distant future.

Mega-retailer Walmart has designed and begun preliminary builds of what they call WAVE—or Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience. The truck uses a micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on different fuels, including diesel, biodiesel, and natural gas. It can also run on electricity for short periods of time.

It’s not just the inside of the truck that’s futuristic. The outside body looks like it could have been pulled right out of a science fiction movie. The cab is shaped to be highly aerodynamic, and the trailer—made from carbon fiber—weighs in 4,000 lbs less than today’s trailers. Cargo space isn’t sacrificed either. In fact, the WAVE’s trailer can hold even more than a conventional one.

Obviously, Walmart has fuel efficiency in mind, which might strike some people as uncharacteristic of the company. Walmart, the big bad super-corporation cares about the Earth? But with a fleet of thousands constantly traveling back and forth across the country, think of how much money Walmart would save if these improvements were made on all their trucks.

While we’re unlikely to see WAVE-like trucks on the road anytime soon, it’s nice to think about the future and reflect on the progress we’re making. Then again, maybe one day we’ll look back and laugh at how mistaken we were.

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