Every year, approximately 4,000 Americans die or are critically injured in truck-related collisions and accidents. Truck drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs considering the risk of fatigue due to the long and consecutive hours they put in on a weekly basis. Although there are many controls present and safety standards have improved over the years, this is still a big problem. The majority of accidents are due to human error, and fatigue and burnout play a huge part in this. The fact it, no amount of professional skill and experience can outlast the need for sleep.
Now, let’s talk about something that could solve this problem as we know it. Elon Musk announced last night that Tesla’s newest project is a truck – a fully electric semi. As with all Tesla trucks, autopilot is a standard, meaning driving on highways will be almost completely automated. To add another even more advanced element, the trucks also include features that prevent jackknifing – another one of the most dangerous risks a driver faces. For those who don’t know, jackknifing occurs when a truck turns in one direction, but the trailer portion goes the opposite way. The risk of flipping is very high in these situations.
So what makes Tesla trucks safer? First of all, each one of the wheels has an independent motor working within the electric drivetrain. This means that weight can be sensed individually on different locations of the truck, and allow it to balance itself out by using either negative or positive torque depending on the imbalance and direction. The autopilot takes some of the focus off the driver’s mind and allows them to be more alert and relaxed at the wheel.
What are some other features of the semi? The model is going into production in 2019, and Tesla says it will be able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds – on empty. Comparing to the common diesel trucks driven today, this is an increase of 3x the speed. The truck will be able to hold a load of up to 80,000 lbs, and when full, it should be able to reach 60 mph in just 20 seconds.
From an inside point, the cab has a minimalist feel to it, with 2 touchscreens and a centre seat (rather than being offset to the left). The diver will sit much further forward since there is no motor taking up space, and there is plenty of storage space in the cabin.
We will definitely be staying tuned for the latest updates!