Tesla’s Semi is an all-electric semi truck, which itself is a major feat, but its powertrain isn’t the only technological innovation that the automaker is applying to trucking. One other key element of the new Semi is that it will automatically avoid one of the most notorious, and dangerous potential safety issues faced by big rigs with trailers: jackknifing.
Even the name is adequately frightening – it conveys messy violence. And you’re definitely familiar with the concept, even if you can’t link It to the name: It’s what happens when the truck cab violently turns one way, but the truck trailer goes another, resulting in a disastrous imbalance and the truck eventually flipping on once side and cutting a devastating path across highway lanes.
The Tesla Semi has active safety measures designed to prevent this from happening. It does this by taking advantage of its unique electric drivetrain, which includes independent motors for each of the wheels. The truck can sense distribution of weight across those wheels, and actuate the motors or brake them accordingly to maximize traction control, and automatically correct for thing like oversteer in response to weight shifts.
The result is a truck that will do everything in its power to avoid a jackknifing incident, automatically, without requiring any driver intervention. And, it’ll do it regardless of what trailer or load is attached at the back. “Jackknifing is impossible,” said Elon Musk on stage at the Tesla Semi unveiling.
This could be a huge feature in terms of offering drivers additional peace of mind, and giving logistics companies additional assurance that their investment and personnel are protected.