Dispatches From The Future

How to tell if you're driving behind one of Tesla's self-driving robot trucks

November 17, 2017
US-ECONOMY-TRANSPORT-TESLA-TRUCK
VERONIQUE DUPONT

Tesla, the company responsible for popularizing electric cars, using renewable energy to power the prettiest place on Earth and building that escalator to nowhere, announced this week its latest venture into writing the future: electric semi-trucks that primarily drive themselves all the way from Utica to Fort Wayne. In a sweet nighttime presentation by chief executive Hank Scorpio, Tesla unsheathed its fancy prototype for a battery-powered diesel truck that’s exhaust-free, largely automated and able to completely drive itself 12 mph under the speed limit in the left lane for 20 f**king miles.

Not surprisingly, the Tesla truck looks like a Pixar version of a real truck, one that’s prettier, free of any actual lines and painted like a stormtrooper. The space-truck’s new cabins are large enough for a driver and passenger to stand right next to their robot overlords, and the driver’s seat is in the center, not on the left side, where it’s much easier to reach for the Charlie Daniels cassettes. That interior is basically an arcade, outfitted with a flurry of video screens that offer maps, navigation data and blind-spot cameras, a furious stream of information that’s relentless enough to assure the trucks can only be operated by qualified drivers or the nearest 13-year-old.

Donald Iain Smith

And it will be operated by a similar version of the Autopilot used in the Tesla you can sort of maybe consider possibly affording. And they’ll be solar-powered! “So your truck will be running on sunshine,” says Scorpio, presumably while walking on it.

Tesla’s self-driving trucks should be pretty obvious when they hit roads in 2020, what with how they’ll look like truck-sized versions of Wall-E and no one inside them will be throwing cigarette butts onto the passing window of your Odyssey. But there are a few other signs that you’re probably traveling behind a Tesla Auto-Truck:

• It’s upside-down in a ditch

• The truck appears to be driving in the right lane in keeping with commonly accepted traffic laws for some reason

• You know how you usually have to wait in line to get a decent pecan log at the Flying J Truck Stop? NO MAS

• Upside: Robots don’t care if you flip them off

• Downside: Tesla is probably developing robots who care if you flip them off

• Devices in the cab automatically upcycle spent Skoal cans into Virginia Pine air fresheners

• Pro-Trump graffiti drawn with finger on the back door grime will be in 14-pt. Cambria Bold

• Truck occasionally tries to kill Bumblebee

• Instead of watching you drive up the left lane, waiting until the last possible second and veering violently in front of you with seconds to spare, robot semi truck drivers behave like goddamn DECENT HUMAN BEINGS

• Sign on the back: How’s My Driving? Go To www.TeslaSelfDrivingTruckFeedback.com And Click on File a Complaint in the Drop-Down Menu on the Left Side of the Screen And After Submitting Your Two-Step Verification Code Please Tell Us In Under 500 Characters What We Can Do to Better Serve You

• All CB radio chatter is basically about how hot “Ex Machina” is

• Now and again the trucks become self-aware and start murdering people but operating any vehicle comes with risks

• Digital Truck Nutz

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