Regardless of what you think about Elon Musk, the world’s second-best Tony Stark cosplayer (the number one spot belongs to RDJ, of course) and his latest endeavour the Tesla Cybertruck, you can’t deny
it looks like a low polygon-count video game vehicle straight outta the early 1990s he knows how to put on a show, intentionally or otherwise.
You may think the Cybertruck’s cyberpunk-inspired angular form is a cybercrime against good taste, but you can’t deny its stainless steel skin’s (incidentally, that same metal is also used on Elon’s spacecraft) ability to shrug off sledgehammer blows and bullets without so much as a scratch is worthy of some applause.
And what of its also-unbreakable Tesla Armor GlassTM Transparent MetalTM windows? A panel survived a metal ball being dropped on it entirely unscathed, but when Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen pitched a metal ball at it, the Tesla Armor GlassTM did what all glass does when it has hard objects thrown at it.
That is to say, it cracked. And just to prove that first one wasn’t a fluke, the same ball was chucked at another Transparent MetalTM window panel, which also promptly cracked.
Thankfully, beyond a muttered expletive and some visible awkwardness after, Elon kept on trucking, if a little glassy-eyed from the experience.
But if you’re wondering exactly why the impregnable window passed one smash test with flying colours and failed so miserably in another, perhaps PhysicsTM has the answer.
Still, that doesn’t explain why But It Was Working Perfectly BeforeTM. Haha.
Franz throws steel ball at Cybertruck window right before launch. Guess we have some improvements to make before production haha. pic.twitter.com/eB0o4tlPoz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 23 November 2019
At any rate, the Cybertruck’s senses-shattering debut wasn’t the first time (and it certainly won’t be the last) something didn’t quite go according to plan during an on-stage presentation. Even the late, great Steve Jobs wasn’t immune to unforeseen product demo hiccups in his time as the tech messiah.
So to reflect upon that, here are some other automotive product/feature demos that inexplicably developed stage fright and cracked under pressure.
Dial ‘S’ for Stop?
Back in the mid-2000s radar-guided adaptive cruise control that could bring a car to a full stop if necessary—supremely handy when wading through the drudgery of traffic jams—wasn’t exactly a thing. Which meant that when Mercedes-Benz introduced it in the fifth-generation S-Class, along with a few other collision mitigation systems, it was a Pretty Big Deal.
Unfortunately, a press demo of the system went awry, as the above video will show, though perhaps worse was the resulting fallout, which makes for rather sordid reading, to say the least. And this in the wake of the mass recall of the original A-Class after failing the so-called ‘Elk Test’. Thankfully, the new one is rather good indeed.
Them’s the Brakes
Volvo makes a pretty big deal about safety. In fact, you could say it has built its entire brand around it. From the three-point seatbelts it introduced in 1959, to the ‘bricks on wheels’ 200-series cars through the 1970s and 1990s, safety has become pretty much synonymous with the Volvo brand. Indeed, the Swedish carmaker promises that by 2020, nobody will be killed or seriously hurt in one of its new cars.
One of those technologies underpinning that vision is City Safety, a standard feature on the second-generation S60, which made its debut in 2010. At speeds of below 30km/h, the car will automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t, thereby avoiding an embarrassing fender-bender. Well, that’s the idea, anyway. However, at a press demo in the video above, an early version of the City Safety system didn’t seem to get the memo.
Up to Your Neck in Problems
As anyone who has ever used any piece of technology will tell you, nothing is foolproof. At some point, you’re going to run into gremlins, as all the above examples will prove. Which is probably why, if you want to test a safety system out, you probably shouldn’t stick your neck out to do so.
Clearly, this intrepid salesman would do well to heed that advice. In attempting to demonstrate how safe his vehicle’s sliding door system was, he found himself neck-deep in trouble when said door failed to retract after detecting a blockage. i.e: him.
Honda may be most famous for building absolutely bulletproof cars (no, not like the Tesla Cybertruck), but what most people don’t know is the Japanese concern also makes motorcycles, ride-on lawnmowers, portable generators, aircraft and uh, humanoid robots.
A project over 30 years in the making starting in the 1980s, Asimo made its public debut in the year 2000, and was officially retired last year. In its two decades of public life, it made numerous high-profile appearances and demos, including once playing football with President Barack Obama. In that time, it also tried to climb some stairs, and it did so. For the first few steps at least…