How smart trailers could give trucking a clean, electrified boost

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Rob Verger is the Technology Editor at Popular Science, where he leads a team of journalists who cover everything from artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, and cybersecurity to privacy, security, and the military.

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One of the most ubiquitous sights on the road is an 18-wheel truck. These large, loud vehicles are a prolific presence on America’s interstates, and are made up of two big components: the tractor, which does the pulling and is where the driver is, and the trailer, where the stuff goes.

That’s because of regenerative braking, which uses the motion from the wheels to charge the battery back up and simultaneously slow the whole rig down. That means that the truck’s brakes get less wear and tear, too. “The second-biggest maintenance item on a trailer is brakes,” he says. (Tires take the top slot.) Plus, Javidan says that the system has a stability boost going downhill, “because we’re dragging from the trailer.

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