YouTuber soundanswer has posted a video of the Tesla Semi taking a pitstop that reveals some new details about the highly anticipated Class 8 hauler.
The first thing that’s clear in a shorter video he posted to Twitter is that the Tesla Semi is not silent. You can hear the whine from the Tesla Model 3 motors that were repurposed into the Semi as it slows down, as well as a nice kick from the industry-standard air brakes as it pulls up.
— Erik J. Martin (@soundanswer) August 30, 2018
The chance encounter happened when the videographer was at the Brush, Colorado, Supercharger and noticed that some of the stalls were blocked off by vans. He walked up to confront the drivers about ICE’ing (ICing?) the stalls and was informed that they were holding the spots for the Tesla Semi. They shared that he could wait around to talk to the drivers … who are also engineers at Tesla. (Uh, yeah!)
When the truck pulled up, he was asked not to show the charging setup as it’s still a beta design. Though, it’s not clear why Tesla didn’t want it to be on camera. It’s pretty cool to see how, even though it is being charged out in the open, in public, that people are respecting Tesla’s request to keep it off of the camera. The angles the video covers do reveal a small white device with a laptop on top that a someone is working 0n, presumably one of Tesla’s engineers.
On Tesla’s side, it’s understandable that it doesn’t want to highlight what has to be an unfinished charging rig. The company shared when the Semi was announced that it would utilize a new Megacharging network that would operate at the higher speeds required to conveniently charge up the large batteries used in the Semi.
Tesla’s engineers were on hand at the charging station and were just chatting it up with a handful of truckers who came to see the spectacle. The response from mainstream truckers has been mixed, but with a constant theme of worry over the automation of their role as a driver and a healthy dose of skepticism about the technology. Autonomous driving is worrisome from a jobs standpoint, but it has the potential to drastically lower cost, which is sure to bring about the technology in time. The improvements in safety are also worth going after, as most traffic-related deaths happen when a big rig is involved.
Tesla shared that it sprayed down the radiators up front to optimize battery cooling. This is interesting to see and hints at more changes required to the prototype in order to scale up the battery size along with the charging speeds. The faster the charging, the more heat is generated both in the cables and in the battery systems. Spraying it down with water clearly won’t be the solution ongoing, but it’s interesting to see how Tesla is mitigating some of the limitations in the prototype.
The cab on the Semi is a day driver, meaning there’s no room for a sleeper and comes with a battery capable of 300 miles range. At freeway speeds, that’s more than 8 hours of driving, but it’s not clear if that is the loaded or unloaded range. Either way, it’s exciting to see Tesla taking its new carbon fiber babies out on the town for some real-world testing.
The prototypes were stated to have 26 cameras on board, which the videographer noted is more than will be included in the production version and shows that Tesla is still iterating and working out what the “right” solution is for Autopilot on the Semi. Semi trucks drive differently than passenger cars, of course. As such, the systems that manage them cannot simply be ported over from the Model 3.
The two videos provide a practical look at what could be Tesla’s biggest disruption in the automotive world to date. That certainly seems true from an emissions per vehicle standpoint and has the potential to grow much faster if Tesla is able to truly move into the space and disrupt the traditionally diesel-powered vehicles.
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