Ever since the release of the highly controversial fully electric Tesla Cybertruck, the public was captivated by the vehicles virtually indestructible exoskeleton, made out of Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel, the same material used by SpaceX for the starship spacecraft. The Cybertruck, with it’s brutalist polygonal styling and raw finish almost looks..confrontational, like it’s begging you to go ahead and take your best shot, as long as you keep the caliber under 9MM.
With plaid mode activated, the premium tri-motor Cybertruck will have an estimated output of 800 horsepower and 1000 pound-feet of torque, plenty of power to propel the hefty metal box to 60 MPH in 2.9 seconds, and tow up to 14,000 pounds.
Great for dropping jaws when the light turns green and towing a couple of 4-wheelers, but could you really turn the powerful electric pickup into a serviceable light tactical vehicle?
Crazy? Maybe, the Cybertruck is certainly not designed for police or military use, but the concept is definitely intriguing.
We consulted with vehicle Armourers, military specialists, and automotive designers to help imagine a tactical Cybertruck, fit for the apocalyptic wasteland.
The Cybertrucks stout build and powerful electric powertrain provide a good base for a high mobility uparmored vehicle, and the truck’s low thermal signature and quiet electric motor make it well suited for reconnaissance operations where stealth, mobility, and resilience are valued.
Tesla founder Elon Musk famously said, “You want a truck that’s really tough, not fake tough,” Well, we want a truck with defensive and offensive capabilities suitable for a variety of conflict scenarios.
Let’s build a hypothetical tactical cyber truck and assess some upgrades that will make Elon’s electric pickup truck fit for the modern battlefield.
We asked Mark Burton, Founder and CEO of Armormax, one of the largest designers and manufacturers of Armored Cars in the US what he thinks about the Cybertruck.
We’re going to circle back to Mark in a minute to give his rundown of what features he would outfit the Cybertuck with, and he gets pretty James Bond with it so keep watching.
First and foremost, let’s leverage the tri-motor Cybertrucks 3500 lb payload capacity and adjustable air suspension to tack on some extra mass. Namely in the form of a vehicular armor upgrade kit similar to the US Army Research Laboratories Armor Survivability Kit. The additional protective armor plating, bulletproof glass and ballistic windshield could help provide protection from small arms, explosive fragments, and rocket-propelled grenades. If they could withstand Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen’s infamous steel ball is another question. The cybertrucks unibody exoskeleton and self leveling suspension could easily accommodate the additional 1300 lbs/ 590 kg of such an armor kit.
Our up-amored cyber truck is now better at defeating lateral attacks and withstanding high caliber rifle fire, but to better protect from under-wheel IED blasts , we’d take advantage of the Cybertrucks 16” of ground clearance and add some additional shielding on the undercarriage. We want to avoid learning the unknown consequences of a 200+ kwh lithium ion battery explosively erupting into the the cabin.
Blast mitigation mats in the vehicles interior can serve to further reduce the risk of injury to the lower extremities in and under wheel explosion.
We’re also going to want to add run flat tires, so our Hefty cybertruck can get out of dodge even if one of the tires gets punctured.
Our Cybertruck is now a makeshift Category 1 MRAP, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected light tactical vehicle designed for urban operations.
What about vulnerability to EMP’s electromagnetic pulse weapons? we’re going to protect the cybertrucks electronic components by wrapping them in some sort a faraday caging material. Remember this project is extremely, hypothetical.
Remotely Operated Weapon Station
We want our Cybertruck to be able to dish it out as well as take it.
So…we might as well throw a Konsberg M153 CROWS Remotely operated weapon station on the roof. This allows our post apocalyptic warriors to acquire and engage targets without leaving the protection of the vehicle, you use a controller inside, kind of like a video game, but way more fun.
The gyro stabilized CROWS mount is capable of 360 degrees of rotation and supports a variety of weapons systems. Our sight package includes a daylight video camera, a thermal camera and a laser rangefinder, and we’re outfitting our system with an M240 Machine gun. Opting for rapid, high volume engagement against multiple targets. This 950 Rounds per minute 7.62 caliber gas operated machine gun offers easy stops on soft targets, and in conjunction with the camera system can engage targets out to 1,200 meters away at an estimated 95% accuracy rate, it also has the ability to track moving targets at 25 mph.
Anduril Ghost UAS
Silence is stealth, and electric is silent.Like we said earlier those attributes make our Cybertruck well suited for Reconnaissance or scouting, the exploration of a hostile area to gain information, and we’re going to want to extend the surveillance capabilities of our stealthy cybertruck, by adding a surveillance drone to perform reconnaissance and prevent us from driving into an ambush. We’re going to take advantage of the Cybertrucks bed as launch point for a Ghost UAS from Anduril. The modular Ghost is an autonomous, single rotor, long endurance, high speed drone that combines point-and-click autonomous operation with the power and endurance of a helicopter.
In combination with Anduril’s lattice AI operational platform, a single operator can task multiple drones to carry out a variety of missions. Once a task is set, the software handles all flight planning, maneuvering and detection to carry out the task. This eliminates the need for a dedicated pilot and allows our Cybertruck operators to focus on other mission critical activities, like driving, or shooting their remote operated weapons station.
The Ghost UAS comes with a modular rail system with an option for a payload delivery mechanism. We could equip it with a medical kit, or additional sensors, but we’re going to go with a custom high explosive airburst payload that we can drop on the heads of any hostile personnel so we don’t have to just sit there watching them plan their ambush with our hands in our pockets.
Boomerang Anti Sniper System
As an additional countermeasure, we’d add a boomerang anti-sniper system, which uses seven microphone sensors to immediately detect gunfire and determine shooter location. In harmony with Tesla’s native cameras and sensors, we’d reprogram the DARPA developed boomerang’s output to display shooter coordinates on Tesla’s own tablet.
BLADE Counterdrone System
With improvised drones being one of the fastest growing threats on the modern battlefield, we’ll also include a Ballistic Low Altitude Drone Engagement, or BLADE prototype on our CROWS. The BLADE can detect, track, identify and take down drones with electronic attack, impeding surveillance and Potential attacks from weaponized Drones.
Mark Burton’s Ideas
Let’s circle back to Mark from ArmorMax, and ask what he would do to fortify a Cybertruck:
“What we’d do is, when we receive the cybertruck we’d go in and disassemble it, and reinforce every area. Even though it’s already a tough and durable truck, we’d go and reinforce the pillar posts, your A, B, and C posts…”
Bioweapon Defense Mode
The Cybertruck has some standard features that would really come in handy in a dystopian nightmare, such as the “bioweapon defense mode”, the same hospital grade air filtration that was available in earlier Tesla models X and model S’s which Tesla says is, “100 times more effective than premium automotive filters” as it removes “at least 99.97% of fine particulate matter and provides protection against chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats, including viruses” and I can think of a few recent situations where something like that might come in handy.
Electric Military Vehicles
The future of military vehicles is electrified.
Donald Sando, Deputy to the Commanding General of the US Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence says, “In 10 years, some of our brigade combat teams will be all-electric.”
Sando speculates the M1 Abrams could be replaced with a next-generation combat vehicle like a 75-ton electric tank powered by high-capacity batteries.
The US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command has been trying to overcome the hurdles of electric vehicle technology for decades. The potential benefits include lower-cost, improved performance, engine decentralization, stealthier operation, and even direct usage as an ancillary power source in theater.
Army Futures Command Lieutenant General Eric Wesley said the U.S. Army “is seeking to power its brigades using electric and hybrid sources in order to break free of the burden of fuel and disposable batteries that bog down its logistics tail and limit mobility and reach.”
It won’t be without challenges, fuel has a long history of reliable service and deeply ingrained infrastructure, but the commander of Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Major General Cedric Wins has said the Army plans to leverage innovation driven by commercial industry.
The Burly Cybertruck and Tesla’s extensive supercharger network may very well be one such relevant civilian technology.
Elon Musk is not opposed to participating in military efforts. In fact his company SpaceX was contracted by the US Air Force to launch classified payloads.
Musk was the keynote speaker at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium, where he praised the space force, stressed the importance of military innovation, and boldly claimed that “Fighter Jet Era has past, and drone warfare is the future.
DARPA Ground X-Vehicle
The United States Military is also doing some high voltage research of their own. DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle incorporates 20” rims that pack a 100kW electric motor with 3 gears, and heat management directly inside the wheel.
DARPA says the design, “offers numerous potential benefits for combat vehicles, such as heightened acceleration and maneuverability with optimal torque, traction, power, and speed over rough or smooth terrain.”
For reliable power, you need a functioning power grid anywhere you plan to operate. Perhaps alternative power solutions are in store for the future as well.
Solar Panels on cars are an intriguing concept, but the technology is not yet viable to charge the Cybertruck’s massive batteries with an onboard photovoltaic system. Equipping the cybertruck’s roof with a solar power system could be useful to charge an auxiliary battery that powers the vehicles onboard equipment, and could provide an additional layer of redundancy for vital systems.
Long charge times are a concern for any application where you you may need to get a vehicle back into action quickly.
Tesla’s supercharger network has made strides in DC Fast charging technology. At peak efficiency, a tesla model 3 long range car can gain 75 miles of charge in 5 minutes and charge at rates up to 1000 miles per hour.
We know that Tesla has been working on a rapid swappable battery technology for several years that could eliminate the need for charging and swap in a fully charged battery pack in minutes.
You can see how commercial EV infrastructure initiatives such as this can become dual use technologies.
Law Enforcement Orders
The cybertruck’s performance characteristics, sturdy chassis, and durability, have definitely sparked real world interest in law enforcement agencies across the world and many police departments have already put in their orders in for Cybertrucks that they plan to convert into operational police vehicles.
Mexican mayor Adrián Esper Cárdenas of Ciudad Valles was excited to announce his department put in an order of 15 cybertrucks to hunt down bad hombres in a more ecofriendly manner.
The dubai police department posted this render shortly after the Cybertruck’s official launch event.
and up north in Canda the Ontario Police department tweeted this Cybertruck render at Elon Musk.
one thing’s for sure, you definitely don’t want to get in police chase with this bad boy, especially if my friend Donut Operator is driving.
The Cybertruck comes with Autopilot capable hardware today, and full self-driving capabilities in the future—through software updates.
Surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the truck at up to 250 meters range, and a forward facing radar system provides enhanced coverage. This torrent of data is processed by Tesla’s proprietary neural net software.
Full-autonomous, self-driving tech could have serious implications when used in a combat scenario. Firing out the window in hot pursuit, operating comms, or performing other mission critical activities while the cybertruck drives itself would be a game changer.
Utilizing Tesla’s Summon mode to come save your butt in a fight, or provide moving cover is another interesting application.
Tesla’s regularly receive over the air software updates that add new features and make improvements. The Palo Alto automaker has an ethos deeply rooted in software development, and ships forward-looking vehicles with a surplus of hardware capabilities. Tesla has announced no plans or interest in doing so, but we’d sure love to see what kind of software updates Tesla engineers could devise to extend the cybertruck’s tactical capabilities.
Tesla disrupted the massive light duty truck category with its Cyperpunk inspired electric pickup truck that looks like a pointy metal box, but accelerates like a super car, and tows like a Mack truck. Equipped with the modifications and upgrades we mentioned here it could make a formidable futuristic combat vehicle.
Building One with ArmorMax
Oh and by the way, we’re actually going to build one, probably minus the weapons. Mark from ArmorMax has a cybertruck on order, and as soon as it’s delivered I’m going to Utah to make a video on the armoring process, and we will definitely be shooting at it when its finished. If you want behind the scenes updates on that, and to hear about some other projects I’m working on, check the link at the bottom of the description to subscribe to our email list.
I want to thank my friend Jan Peisert of Peisert Designs for collaborating with me on the renders, you can find him on instagram and youtube.