Volvo Trucks: Success for Charlie the Hamster at the Wheel of a Truck
STOCKHOLM--The film “The Hamster Stunt” has been a major success on Youtube and has been viewed more than 3.4 million times in just one week. It shows how a truck is steered along narrow, uneven tracks in a quarry in Spain. Who’s at the wheel? Charlie the hamster, weighing in at 175 grams.
“Charlie’s our star! He demonstrated that he has the best strength, confidence and attitude to learning new ideas. And he’s very food-oriented so he’s willing to follow the target, which is a carrot”
In February Volvo Trucks launched new technology that makes even a heavily laden truck light and easy to manoeuvre. The driver can steer the vehicle without the least bit of effort, in fact all it requires is a single finger on the steering wheel. In the film “The Hamster Stunt” the technology is put to the test by allowing Charlie the hamster to steer a truck. A specially designed hamster treadmill is attached to the steering wheel and Charlie runs in his wheel, changing directions to get at his prize – a carrot. The tiny animal’s mere body weight is sufficient to steer the truck. The accelerator and brakes were operated by experienced stunt driver Seon Rogers.
“We had to go slow and steady and make sure that Charlie ran in the right direction,” says Seon Rogers.
Charlie was chosen in a careful casting procedure.
“Just like people, animals have different personalities. So we knew we had to interview a lot of different hamsters. By putting them through various trials, handling them and getting to know them we soon discovered which hamster would be the best for the job,” explains animal trainer Grace Dickinson, who took care of Charlie on set in Spain.
Charlie, who at the time of the shoot was a mature six months, trained for just over four weeks ahead of the event. He spent time running in the specially-built hamster treadmill, and he also learned to concentrate in a noisy, unfamiliar environment.
“Charlie’s our star! He demonstrated that he has the best strength, confidence and attitude to learning new ideas. And he’s very food-oriented so he’s willing to follow the target, which is a carrot,” says Grace Dickinson.
However, although all the prerequisites for success were in place, it was by no means certain that everything would work out as planned. Hamsters are often unpredictable and nervous.
“It was a big challenge. The driver had to hold the carrot in just the right way so he could lead the hamster. If he held it too high or too low Charlie would lose interest,” explains Grace Dickinson.
During the film shoot Charlie was treated like the star he is. Together with his trainer he had his own “trailer” in a tent on site. Everyone involved in the film was made fully aware that Charlie, who loves a lie-in in the mornings, should have plenty of time to wake up gently and prepare for his role.
“We were a great team and I’m looking forward to more road trips with Charlie,” says Seon Rogers and laughs.
See the film “The Hamster Stunt”: The Hamster Stunt
See the film that shows how Charlie the hamster prepared for his challenge: Charlie the hamster