Kenworth Truck Co. and Aero
Works, a small company based in Olympia, WA, are working together
on a new device for tractor-trailers called a “boat tail,” a large,
rounded appendage designed to increase fuel efficiency.
The boat tail, a 5-foot-long
inflatable device shaped like half an egg attached to the back of
a trailer, is designed to keep the complete length of the truck within
U.S. Department of Transportation length restrictions for aerodynamic
devices, the company said in a release.
Wayne Simons, engineering manager
for Kenworth’s advanced concepts team in Renton, WA, said in a statement
that Aero’s design represented a new approach to the idea of boat
“The industry has known about
the concept for years, but no one has figured out how to make it work,”
he said. “Aero Works might change all that.”
Simons, who specializes in
making vehicles more aerodynamic and researching ways to reduce vehicle
drag, said the device increases fuel efficiency in trucks by several
percent. Aero and Kenworth have tested a model in a wind tunnel and
on the road.
Aero Works President Lee Telnack
told The Seattle Post Intelligencer that the device is designed
to allow truckers’ brake lights to still be visible and to give drivers
access to the trailer’s back doors. The boat tail splits in half and
closes with clips, he told the paper, and then the halves collapse
"like an accordion" against the sides of the truck when the rear trailer
doors are opened.