Cab redesign for Volvo Trucks

We are starting to work on a project for Volvo trucks, mainly about the interior cab design.
We have to focus on two areas:
The storage device in the cab, flexible interior…
The steering wheel with a fixed centre, combined with visual information.
So far, we are just searching some information about it.
Does anyone has advice to help us to do this, any guide?
Thank you /jim

Jim, are you with Volvo or is this a student project?

The first thing I would suggest is to get over to some truck stops. You mention having a flexible interior, but first you need to know how people use the trucks. I’m sure truckers wouldn’t mind if you clicked off some photos of their cabs, and also take notes of what you see in there. This is vital for creating a space that is relevant to your users.

With regards to the wheel design, I’m not clear one what you mean. There will be a fixed steering wheel with the information displays attached to the steering column (a la Mini)? Are you looking for technology suggestions or usability?

We are students working on this project for volvo. Volvo is sponsoring our
Master program and propose us some projects like that.

Thank you for your advice, we will definitively meet some truck divers.
It’s a bite tricky to know where to start from.

Regarding the steering wheel we must find some info regarding technical solutions that fixed steering wheel centre. Based on this, we will evaluate possibilities that are available through this conceptual choice – driver ergonomy, passive safety, reduced complexity etc.


I’m an industrial designer with a CDL (commercial drivers license); I have endorsements to drive vehicles equipped with air brakes, combination (tractor and single trailer), doubles and triples, tankers, hazardous materials, and passenger vehicles.

While I was training for this I found this website:
go to the bottom of the page in the blue band,
third from the right,
click on Forum Archives

There is a tremendous amount of information here, but you’ll probably get the most useable input from these three forums;
Owner Operators
Women in Trucking (there are a lot more women than you might think)
Truck Maintenance

Clearly identify yourselves as design students working with Volvo sponsorship, state what information you would like, and what the end result will be.

Having gone through classroom and over-the-road training I’d suggest that you enroll in a driving class if possible. I imagined what it would be like to drive these vehicles, but after I got behind the wheel it wasn’t anything at all like I imagined. An actual ride-along experience would be an eye-opener and would give you the most input, but insurance restrictions would probably prohibit it.

Cruising truck stops for photographs; maybe not. These guys live in their vehicles 24 hours a day. When they pull into a stop they are tired and hungry, want to take a hot shower, and get back to the rig to bed down. Folks ‘snooping’ around the lot are considered suspect, unless they have ‘something’ to sell (the term is Lot Lizzard) so I wouldn’t go that route for obtaining photos. A better place to try this approach might be at an industrial loading dock (with the permission of the ower of course), a truck dealership, or rental company.

Speaking from personal experience; anything that draws your eyes away from the road, for even a second, is not a good thing. Having to look ‘all the way’ down to the steering column falls into that category in my mind. I can’t believe that Volvo, of all companies, is even considering it.

Instrumentation generally is not visible enough (big). Digital instrumentation, while it sounds like it would be a good thing, actually requires the operator to mentally process information comparatively. i.e. If I have to read the air pressure on two systems, the water temperature, the oil temperature and pressure, I have just been required to take my eyes off of the road for five to ten seconds. Analog guages can be arranged so that all the indicator needles face the 3 o’clock position when the systems they monitor are functionling normally … one quick glance sees the needles all lined up, and I will know all is well, or not.

‘They’ have been building big trucks for almost a hundred years now, and they need help … a lot of it. Interior storage is a problem, but it isn’t the big problem.

Truckers want to plug their accessories in
Cell -
Computer - Yes truckers are on the internet too
xm radio
rechargeable flashlight

When you go to the Iowa 80 , you will be amazed at the hundreds of things truckers plug in. It all can’t be plugged in with 4 daisy chained three way power adapters. Hide the cords too.

Now that I think about it, all of my trucker friends and former trucker bosses had LOTS of guns + weapons and stories about using them.

All the ergonomic long haul comfort thinking is plain as day, but good spots for their guns and plug ins is what they need.

but good spots for their guns … is what they need.

Mod, I’m sure you know that transporting firearms across state lines, is a misdemeanor.

Private Owner Operators may get away with it, but if you are pulling a leased rig, and your dispatcher finds out about it, it will most likely be your last job with them. If you are a ‘company’ driver, possession of firearms on company property (the truck) is, universally, a firing offence.

About ‘plug-ins’; you are 100% correct. I’d even go so far to say that there is a ‘missed’ marketing opportunity for 12volt appliances suitable for the trucking industry (with over-flow into the marine industry).

how about grenades? or a rotating grenade launcher on the top of the cab with radar and target defenition.

OK, so I was poking a little fun. But in reality, My former trucker boss thought he was above the law anyway. He really had tons of firearms and plenty of stories about using them. Statistically, I wonder how many truckers really have guns in the cab I bet I would be surprised.

I have a friend that just finisted his CDL and will work for one of the big hauling companies. He is 25 and has thousands of cd’s, an ipod and a ton of other plug in stuff. Since he is in his training period, he gets to ride along with another driver. both guys have tons of stuff. A Backpack of things gets annoying for those guys.

Interestingly, I know most owner operators have a lot of cash with them at times. Parts of the country are still very cash oriented. What about a safe of some sort. If I was a driver I would not want to get mugged.

since cab design is the topic, Why not pull interior thought process from cars.

The maclaren bucked the tradition of a driver on the right or left and plopped him in the center of the car.

i was once working as a delivery person when going to college and i had to drive a ups size truck and sometimes carrying around 2grand in my pocket because i couldn’t leave it in the truck. that was part of the job and it was in downtown LA/hollywood area. i just hid the money behind my belt. noone could see it. but if some gang member saw me recieving or giving cash to someone i was dead for even carrying 200!

if they know there’s cash in the truck they’ll just break in and remove the safe. it shouldn’t be standard.

I wonder how many truckers really have guns in the cab I bet I would be surprised.

Well Mod, I had to go on the record with my statement, but to be honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised about the number of weapons being carried in commercial vehicles. But the stats on the actual number of survivors of attempted self-defense firearm use might be surprising.

When you see rigs parked for the night in odd spots along the road, you’ll notice that the tractor is never at an angle with the trailer; that’s because it allows the driver to see both sides of the trailer. But is still leaves the back uncovered.

A multi-camera, all-around, video surveillance system would be useful, but the trailer camera would need a radio link so that it would be transportable from trailer to trailer, and so that 60 feet of wire wouldn’t be necessary.


I seen no mention of long haul vs. daily delivery truck status. A daily driver would not likely have an APU.

The trend in long haul seems to be the addition of an APU ( auxilary power unit) It is a small generator to keep the cab warm at night and heat the main engine. It is usually a two cylinder angine that is designed to burn less fuel than idling a Big Cat 3408 or Series 60 Detroit Diesal all night while the driver sleeps.

The trade off is space and the additional weight of the APU. Even thugh you are assigned to steering column and cab ergonomics, the APU heats the cab and would best to design the vents early when seecting locations for plumbing. Heaters are pretty basic.

I think we all have had a car that has either too much or too little heat.

The best place for links to truck stuff is definitely a Magazine that I used to get called Diesal Pregress. Check em out.

You have a cool project. There is more opportunity to do a great job. Oddly enough, there are Die hard truckers that cannot fathom driving a streamlined cab. To them the old styling of boxy peterbuilts is the only way to go down the road.