When long-haul truck drivers pull in for the night and it’s cold, they do what anyone would do in their situation: They leave the engine running. It’s the only way to make sure the cab stays bearable in the small hours.
The problem is, this “idling” wastes fuel and causes a lot of pollution. It’s a bit like if you had to keep your heating system going full blast all night, instead of coming on in short bursts when your house gets cold.
Idle Smart offers a way to regulate cab temperatures, like a thermostat, without the truck engine being on all the time. It’s like Nest for truckers. They can set a temperature before falling asleep and the engine will only come on when it falls below that number (say, 70 degrees).
“While the driver’s sleeping, we will automatically and remotely start the truck and the heat will blow to warm the cab back up. Then it will shut the engine back off,” says Idle Smart’s cofounder Ryan Bennett.
Bennett claims the system cuts idling time by 50%-70%, with savings to trucking companies of $2,800-$3,000 per truck per year. The service, used in “hundreds” of cabs, costs between $45-$90 a month per truck, and includes installation and maintenance.
Kansas City-based Idle Smart also manages the batteries in the truck which tend to run down as drivers use electronics at night. “They live in the trucks. They have refrigerators, TV, microwaves, computers. It drains the battery down so low that they can’t start the truck,” Bennett says. “When that happens in fleet, they have to take the truck off the road and replace all four batteries.”
The app automatically starts the truck when the battery gets low, charges it back up, then shuts it down again. For safety, the engine won’t start if the truck isn’t in neutral, doesn’t have it parking brake on, or has its hood open.
Idle Smart was a semi-finalist in the Kauffman Foundation’s One in a Million pitch competition recently.