“OBER-RAMSTADT, Germany — On a highway south of Frankfurt recently, Thomas Schmieder maneuvered his Scania tractor-trailer and its load of house paint into the far right lane. Then he flicked a switch you won’t find on most truck dashboards.
Outside the cab a contraption started to unfold from the roof, looking like a clothes-drying rack with an upside-down sled welded to the top. As Mr. Schmieder continued driving, a video display showed the metal skids rising up and pushing gently against wires running overhead.
The cab became very quiet as the diesel engine cut out and electric motors took over. The truck was still a truck, but now it was powered like many trains or street cars.
There’s a debate over how to make the trucking industry free of emissions, and whether batteries or hydrogen fuel cells are the best way to fire up electric motors in big vehicles. Mr. Schmieder was part of a test of a third alternative: a system that feeds electricity to trucks as they drive, using wires strung above the roadway and a pantograph mounted on the cab.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This seems like a weirdly ugly idea, but in a terrific direction. I would, in my shameful ignorance, visualize electric trains and monorails that get their electricity from the track, if that is possible. Could it possibly be flood proof? But trucks would have containers just like on ships, that already exists, and put their container on the electric train system, and another truck would pick it up at the other end of the train line system. It could be slower than regular highway speeds, and allow for locals as well as expresses, like the wonderful Paris subway system, only it would be an above ground system, and take up at least half of the current highways that we have now, for individual cars and trucks. This system could move people as well as cargo, and would be all electric. Where would you get all that electricity in the next 50 to 100 years? Probably from the 20 or so new designs for nuclear energy, such as the one designed by the Bill Gates team. These new plants are smaller, and cannot explode or melt down. The Gates version, runs on spent nuclear fuel, so it besides theoretically being safe, will reduce our nuclear waste storage issue.