Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’re probably aware of Tesla’s Cybertruck. Like most of Tesla’s products, the truck is a state of the art vehicle that will likely steer the automotive industry in a new direction. However, after Thursday’s show, I couldn’t help but wonder how safe this new beast will be for others on the road…

Cybertruck Exoskeleton
photos c. Tesla Inc.

Exoskeleton design

In case you don’t know the details on the Cybertruck. One of its biggest selling points is its hardened exoskeleton design. Most, if not all, trucks to date have been built around a heavy-duty chassis with more forgiving body panels. With Cybertruck, the strength is built in the body panels themselves by using Ultra-Hard 30x Cold-Rolled stainless steel. We were even treated to a live demo where Franz Holzhausen – Chief Designer at Tesla Inc. – bashed the door panel with a sledgehammer. The hefty blow didn’t leave a dent or any visible scuffs (from video perspective).

Tesla Cybertruck Glass

Hardened Glass

If what we saw at the demo is what we’re getting, we probably don’t need to worry too much about the glass. But if the trucks are delivered with the glass Tesla is promising, there’s even more to worry about. Their armored glass claims to be significantly stronger than traditional automotive glass and is extremely shatter-resistant. It’s built similar to bulletproof glass, being that it has layers of glass and polymers. So not only will the body not flex during an accident, the glass will likely withhold its shape too.

Cybertruck Interior

Safety is an afterthought

Let’s face it, the Cybertruck has some great features and the ability to lay down fast times at the track. But when it comes to safety during a crash, it looks like it will be an unstoppable force against everything else on the road. Sure, all of the models will come stock with self-driving capabilities, but that hasn’t stopped their other cars from getting into accidents with pedestrians in the past. Put a human behind the wheel, and the odds of accidents increase even more.

Obviously, the vehicle is still in its prototyping phase, and they have years to incorporate other materials into the build to make it safer. But if the majority of the body keeps its super-strong qualities, cyclists and other pedestrians will likely be facing essentially a brick wall (more so than any other car).

Tesla Cybertruck

Cybertruck still needs a lot of work…

As much as Tesla loves to drive the industry in new directions, they would do well by taking a page from Volvo and their approach to pedestrian safety. The Cybertruck has been a polarizing topic for many but hopefully, we can all agree that the design they’ve presented us needs to take a second look at the safety of those who will be sharing the roads with it.

Tesla.com

54 COMMENTS

  1. You’ve missed the fact that the systems are designed to avoid pedestrian (and other road user) collisions.
    If it doesn’t hit anything, surely that’s the safest approach over designing in injury mitigation body panels etc.
    I’d rather be staring down a cybertruck than a redneck in a bush bar equipped f350

    • “If it doesn’t hit anything, surely that’s the safest approach over designing in injury mitigation body panels etc.”
      Change the size of the first word in that sentence to size 72pt type and it will make sense. Nothing is perfect and these won’t be either no matter how much marketeers say they are. I do understand that autonomy will get better and better with time.
      It seems to me that NA doesn’t have pedestrian crash safety standards in place like Europe does? This article has some information. What we really need is REAL cycling infrastructure written into the highway code for road design so that all streets going forward have accommodation for cyclist that don’t put US at risk.
      https://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/12/07/while-other-countries-mandate-safer-car-designs-for-pedestrians-america-does-nothing/

      • A foam filled plastic bumper cover would be an easy addition to the front and back.

        As for cyclists on highways, they really aren’t allowed in my experience… and that seems to work quite nicely. I used to ride, we just used the back roads. There is no safe way a 10-15mph cyclist shares a highway with a 60-70mph car. People need to get to work for society to function. Cyclists don’t need to use highways in the US. Commute distances are farther and cycling to work generally isn’t practical. Its done for exercise and recreation, better done on more scenic routes that won’t necessarily kill you. Travelling with traffic at 15mph with a 70mph truck passing you could blow you half off your bike with overpressure alone.

        • Funny, I ride my bike to work on a 50mph road many days. Traffic speed is ~60mpk, occasionally higher. The only overpressure issue I have is pressuring myself to turn into work as opposed to continuing down the road….

        • Where I live half the backroads have 65 mph speed limits and pretty much 100% of the roads outside of town center are considered highways. Perhaps you’re thinking of interstates which in general do not permit bicycle traffic. Highways are literally all I ride on.

        • “Highway code” doesn’t refer to freeways only. It is the road design guideline for the US. There is probably a technical term for the actual document. I’m saying that cyclists should be separated from vehicles in most cases because cycling is a legitimate transportation method and not just recreational activity.

    • Ok, to those saying this post has no merit, how bout this? You’re riding down a hill at 35mph (obeying the speed limit). A driver pulls out onto the road in front of you, and the crash avoidance system doesn’t work because of the angle and the small frontal profile of the cyclist. You’re about to t-bone the vehicle. Would you rather hit a car with plastic or softer alloy body panels or Ultra-Hard 30x Cold-Rolled stainless steel? Same for the glass – would you rather your head hit bullet proof glass that (claims to be shatter proof) or glass that is designed to shatter but stay intact?

      To be fair there’s nothing to say that Tesla hasn’t already thought of these circumstances and we just haven’t seen the tech, but there’s also reason to be fearful of impacting a vehicle that’s mean to be impervious from impacts. Collision avoidance systems can only go so far, and more often than not, it seems that they’re not equipped to react to cyclists.

  2. This seems a little like putting the cart before the horse. Tesla’s other models have high crash test ratings and there is no reason to believe that this model will be any different. This is not a production model and concluding “safety is an afterthought” is just pure conjecture. Leave this kind of reporting to Faux News.

  3. I wonder how many more people need to die before the self driving will be dropped? Want to make driving safer? Then make it less easy get a driver license. Most people I see are total inept behind the steering wheel. Then make all cars stick shift. Which force you to be a more attentive driver.

    Not all roads are smooth and traffic free like in CA.

    This truck seems a publicity stunt. Wonder if it is ever going to be produced. It doesn’t seem to follow basic regulations for car body safety. I do like the aesthetic, but it is a chick repellent.

    • I agree with that but also think cars should be made less safe for the occupant. If youfeel that you will be protected in a crash (most are not accidents) then you will take more risks. Who will drive safer, a person in a tank or a person driving a car with a spike in the steering wheel?

    • “…before self driving will be dropped?” That’s funny, especially given that autonomous vehicles will eventually be much safer than human piloted vehicles: safer for cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and everyone else on or near roads. Autonomous vehicles don’t drink, aren’t distracted by phones or in-vehicle entertainment centers, don’t get distracted fiddling with knobs, and don’t lose focus like humans.

      It won’t be long before the detection and response algorithms are improved. The computing power and sensors required already exist. Will autonomous vehicles be perfect? No, nothing is, but they will eventually be an order or two of magnitude more safe than human drivers.

      • Don’t believe the hype. Autonomous vehicles are perhaps 20 years away, except on closed highways.

        This Tesla truck does look dangerous to vulnerable road users. Hopefully Tesla will go bankrupt before the model reaches production.

        • Careful reading would reveal that I did not say when autonomous vehicles will surpass human drivers in every way. It could be your made up figure, it could be 10 years. The sensors and computers are mature enough now for the job. The algorithms which will read and interpret the sensors and then direct car response need some more maturation.

          As for the Tesla truck, I’m willing to bet that’s far from the final design, although I’m sure that Tesla is interested in your thoughts, what with them being so well reasoned.

          • As an engineer, I have no desire to work at Tesla. The whole electric car thing is largely built on fraud. The break-even point for a Tesla being better for the environment than an internal combustion engine car is perhaps 250,000 miles, a mileage that most of them will never see, except in fleet use.

            • All of that is tangential to autonomous vehicles. Your opinions are just that, no matter your job. Appeals to authority really aren’t valid forms of argument.

    • There really should be mandated continual driver training for a lot of the driver assistance aids. I borrowed my BILs model X while I was in Texas for a medical appointment and the driver assistance features made driving in traffic more pleasurable than my pickup truck but I still kept my eyes on the road and didn’t trust the system much more than I’d trust ACC on a Corolla. Id guess a lot of people think autopilot means one doesn’t have to look at anything but their phone burger sadly.

  4. Totally agree with the other comments thus far. You guys clearly have never ridden in or driven a Tesla. I agree there are many questions to be answered about how you create crumple zones with a skin like this, but this truck is far, far less likely to hit a cyclist than anything else out there. My Tesla has saved my life and the lives of others multiple times by simply avoiding an accident. Humans driving vehicles are the reason that vehicles hit cyclists. Whether a cyclist gets hit by a tiny sub compact or a giant truck, the outcome will be bad. Having super intelligent AI to oversee humans is the best possible thing for cyclist safety.

    • The best possible thing for cyclist safety with regards to automobiles is to have cell phones automatically switch to vehicle mode when the vehicle starts moving. Or have smart car keys that are tethered to a person’s phone and the keys don’t work until the phone is switched to vehicle mode (no text, no phone).

      • That is an incredibly great idea for stopping the distracted driving epidemic. The phone companies are being irresponsible in their product design. As for this extremely-loose truck concept that everyone is raving about, I’ll eat my words if it looks anything like this in final production. Nowhere close to the price-tag either. Musk is a master of generating hype and getting his customers to have cult-like status where he can do no wrong. Kinda like Apple.

    • “My Tesla has saved my life and the lives of others multiple times” Multiple times huh. Are you a really bad driver? Or is it always others around you? 🙂

  5. I’m going to venture that the 20:1 weight ratio of car vs human (not to mention velocity) would make even a Yugo a “brick wall” to pedestrians.

    • Do you see that giant, flat metal surface on the front of the truck where you’d normally see a grill? That’s a great radar reflector.

  6. Opinion pieces that dramatize ones fears and try to point out some potential victim to save…

    Michael Gushulak, please ditch the sensationalist journalism. This is trash.

  7. Easiest way around this is to incorporate in the design a soft front and side bumper system to soften the impact.
    These soft bumper elements can be easily and inexpensively replaced and be smartly designed into the cars exterior.

  8. The “A” Pillar that connects the front of the car to the roof is sure to block the drivers view of those in a crosswalk or looking around a turn (such as when turning left/right at an intersection. Vulnerable users have no chance that they’ll be seen by the driver. Only software can save the day.

    • That’s some great victim blaming. But I’ve been buzzed and almost hit numerous times wearing basically an all neon/day glow kit, with a 180 lumen tail light, in broad daylight on a Saturday morning both on a quiet country road and low traffic suburban setting. I don’t think it matters since most drivers are staring at facebag while trying to navigate a several ton hunk of metal and glass.

  9. “I wonder how many more people need to die before the self driving will be dropped?”

    Well, about 40,000 people die every year with people driving and self-driving is certainly going to reduce that number significantly but it won’t be zero ever. We always hold new technology to a much higher standard than existing technology even if it’s demonstrably better.

    I agree the Tesla truck is much more of a styling exercise than a practical vehicle.

      • Your totally correct about that, I’m involved in the automotive industry and witness the constant failure to get the electronics correct in new vehicles. It amazes me the sometimes catastrophic electronic issues happening and as cars become more complex the issues become more serious. As these “hi tech” machines age and are out or warranty these electronics will be so expensive to repair that we will be stuck with a fleet of millions of vehicles where the safety systems are rendered useless.

  10. Funny that people assume that if a vehicle passes some pedestrian protection standard then all is OK. I assure you that ANY collision with a vehicle has long-term consequences for the person that was hit. They will never recover completely. Trauma can be treated but its effects linger on.

  11. With all I have to worry about on my bike, the tesla truck is no higher than anything else. a cheaply made minivan will more likely kill me than the back to the future truck. angry dude in a huge deizel truck is more likely to make my kid an orphan than the tin man machine. Bring on the mad max thingy!

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