170g hamster steers Volvo truck
LOOK MA, I CAN DRIVE! Volvo Trucks used the help of Charlie, a trained hamster in a short film to showcase its new FMX's dynamic steering technology. Image: Newspress
It takes a big set of cojones to drive a 15-tonne truck up a narrow mountain pass, or you could let Charlie take over. He's a 170g golden hamster used by Volvo to show off the dynamic steering on the new FMX.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Volvo Trucks turned to a very cute fuzzball to show off its new FMX's dynamic steering technology in a mini film called 'The Hamster Stunt'.
The new ad follows Volvo’s risky ‘Ballerina stunt’ of 2012 for its mini film, 'The Hook'. The automaker brings the next film, 'The Hamster Stunt', in which a trained hamster called Charlie steers a new FMX 15-ton truck up a mountain pass in Spain.
Watch 'The Hamster Stunt' video
However, this kind of commercial with cute little creatures is nothing new. South Africans might recall the local BMW TV 'white mouse' ad created to showcase the brand's power-assisted steering. We can't quite remember the year but the commercial also won an award for best ad.
In August 2013, Wheels24 reported on Kia Motors bringing back its hamsters for a sexy Soul ad - though we reckon they weren't real hamsters.
Volvo’s intent with the stunt was to “demonstrate how easy it is to steer a the FMX equipped with Volvo Dynamic Steering by letting a hamster guide the truck up the side of a Spanish quarry”.
The automaker says this unique technology replaces the driver's muscle power, making it possible for the hamster - weighing in at a mere 170g - to do the job.
Jan-Inge Svensson, the engineer behind the development of the system's software, said: "At low speeds a heavily laden vehicle is so easy to manoeuvre that it can be steered with just one finger. When driving on the highway, this dynamic steering system offers unbeatable directional stability.”
Animal trainer Grace Dickinson said Charlie underwent several weeks of training before the test. "Charlie’s our star! He demonstrated that he has the best strength, confidence and attitude to learning new ideas.”
Apparently the stunt is one of many tests involving the company’s new trucks. In another video called 'The Hook', Volvo Trucks’ president Claes Nilsson balances on the front panel of a Volvo FMX as it dangles above Gothenburg harbour in Sweden. In the 'Ballerina Stunt', dare-devil slackliner Faith Dickey balances on a tightrope between two Volvo FH trucks barrelling along a highway.
Nilsson said: "Our films reveal the technical innovations of our new truck models in a unique way. More films of spectacular tests are due out soon."
Driving dogs, perhaps Claes?