Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

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Truck Design


What makes the long haul driver feel more at home in the truck?

Faced with toiling their lives on the road, truck drivers often seek lucrative or better quality lifestyle jobs in other industries. Realizing the need to increase retention, truck owners wanted to increase driving comfort. Students looked at creating a home-like experience for the long haul sleeper.

The Solution


One of the prototypes of the truck interior, showcased during the final presentation.

Three student teams focused on select areas of the long haul truck, proposing the following solutions:

Sky Bed

Truck drivers who work in shifts, taking turns sleeping.  Despite the fact that most trucks have an upper and a lower bunk, most drivers take turns using the more accessible lower bunk, each using their own sleeping bag for their time for sleep.  Students addressed this problem by designing a versatile seating area that can be raised into an upper bunk bed and transformed into a lower bunk for sleeping. One truck quickly becomes two homes for companion drivers.

Pets on the Road

A third of truck drivers own pets (Newport Communications). But pets cost the driver up to $1000 as a deposit charged to drivers in fleets; fleet owners see pets as an added refurbishing cost when the driver leaves. Students saw this opportunity to create a structured environment to transport pets with amenities such as a water jug, harness and gate and a collapsible passenger seat. A well-designed environment would reduce costs for both drivers and fleet owners, and increase safety.

Kitchen To Go

Five out of ten drivers are obese (Global Insight, 2005). Considering the food that is convenient to highways, maybe one should be surprised that even more drivers are not obese. Interviews reveal that truck drivers would enjoy cooking their own meals, yet drivers have found food preparation in typical long haul cabs to be overly challenging.

Students designed an ergonomic, fully integrated kitchenette and dining experience for the compact environment within the truck. This design evolved into a production model in 2008.


Patents & Awards

The designs for SkyBed, Pets on the Road, and Kitchen to Go were integrated into an interior concept which provided the basis for the LoneStar truck introduced by Navistar.

Travelling the roads today, this paradigm-shifting truck won the 2009 American Truck Drivers Truck of the Year Award.