How can the Cybertruck match the 5 star safety rating of the Model 3 and Model X in the European new car asessment program?
Can it implement crash protection and pedestrian protection without compromising the scratch resistance or strength of its stainless steel outer shell? And can it keep its iconic design.
One simple addition would be lighting and reflectors to make sure the vehicle is visible from the side, especially at night. And the ability to flash those lights if another vehicle comes too close in a car park.
Crash protection and pedestrian protection can be done very effectively with external airbags like those being developed by the company ZF (Friedrichshafen AG).
These extra strong airbags could protect against a side collision and be built into a running board between the front and rear wheels. This could be bolted to the vehicle so that it can easily be replaced after an airbag discharge - no need to scrap the vehicle!
A similar extra strong airbag could be deployed from the front bumper, preventing a child going under the vehicle as well as preventing the head of an adult hitting the windscreen. Such an air bag deploying from the front bumper needs a soft outer bag to protect pedestrians and a much harder inner bag to protect from vehicle to vehicle collisions, or going into a concrete barrier.
Other external airbags could protect the rear and rear corners, discharged from a rear bumper.
The Cybertruck will already have the other essential component for this system - the comprehensive array of sensors and the software needed to predict that a collision is imminent and unavoidable. It takes 150 milliseconds for the system to make a decision and deploy the bags - before the collision occurs!
Because the crash protection is under software control the deployment can be turned off when offroading. And not deployed for low speed contact in a car park where the occupants are not at risk.
However there is a problem with the steel plate on the bonnet, the steel frame each side of the windscreen and the steel plate above the wheels on the sides front and rear. In a severe crash these will cut like a guillotiene. Slicing into the other vehicle, or in collision with a concrete wall slicing back into the passenger compartment. These need fold lines cut into them so that if pushed back by an accident they fold like a concertina, alternately up and down like a giant steel spring, absorbing the energy of the crash and protecting the passenger compartment.
In spite of its hard shell the Cybertruck could easily have by far the best safety ratings of any large pickup, and just as good as the model 3 or Y.
One further safety problem - The Cybertruck has strong pillars each side of the windscreen and in an old style pickup these would create serious blind spots, and as with many pickup trucks, you don't get a good view of the road immediately in front of the vehicle. Off roading as well as city streets are so much safer if you can see exactly what is in front of your vehicle, or in front of each wheel. Screens in front of these side front side pillars as well as a screen that runs the full length below the windscreen are ideal to give the driver an accurate view of what he otherwise would not see. With the camera and radar technology already built into the Cybertruck, and the computer to make it work, these blind spots simply go away, and any hazards can be highlighted, enhancing safety for those in the vehicle and for pedestrians outside.
People standing very close in front of the vehicle in a blind spot can be seen in their exact location simply by looking at the screen, that appears to be a window onto the road ahead.
So my conclusion is that the Cybertruck can keep it's iconic shape and stainless steel cladding yet still be a safe vehicle.