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Thread: Model S Test Mule?

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    Model S Test Mule?

    I was parked next to this thing today at the Hawthorne SC. Any ideas what's going on? I asked one of the guys driving it what all the sensors were for, but he was understandably pretty vague. I would be too.

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    Last edited by Gear; 2014-02-20 at 10:34 PM.
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    Roadster #1144 + Sig 114 dsm363's Avatar
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    Did you get a picture?
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    Sorry, pictures didn't show up for some reason. The tapatalk app doesn't seem to want to attach them. I'll have to add them when I get home in an hour and some change. Sorry!
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    I bet it was for autonomous driving tests. Pictures would help with the guessing game.
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    We need photos!

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    I updated the original post to add the photos. Sorry for teasing you guys! As for the photos, you can see all four wheels had some kind of sensor on it and there was wiring kind of running everywhere. I initially thought the thin box up top was a solar setup or something as I was pulling in, but it was just a sheet metal box. On the dash, you can see there's a display mounted to the windshield, presumably displaying the data from the wheel sensors, as well as an industrial looking stop button. In the back seat, there was also something that kind of looked like a big fuel tank seat-belted onto the rear seat, but I can't imagine that would have been what it was. One of the guys who got in the car said they were from the factory (the car had manufacturer plates) and when I asked him what the car was for, he said something about wheel dynamics or something like that, choosing his words very carefully. I made sure to tell him I understand if he can't talk about it, and at the end of the brief conversation, he said something to the effect of "Sorry, I'm just not sure where the line is", in regards to divulging information. I didn't really press him for information as I could tell he was slightly uncomfortable and I certainly wouldn't want anybody to get into trouble. Any thoughts?

    PS, I'm not sure what the blue coloring is that showed up in the glass on the pictures. It wasn't actually there in person, obviously. It must have been something weird with the camera on my phone.
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    Standard looking encoders on the wheels. Stop button is curious although I guess they'd have it there for safety even if this is just an AWD mule and not self-piloting.

    They could also be testing active cruise control/collision detection...but those comments imply otherwise I suppose.
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    Senior Member Gizmotoy's Avatar
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    The thing on the roof throws me. External battery pack? That wire going down the A-pillar might be large enough, and might run into the frunk's microwave area where they had considered putting additional batteries... might be battery access terminals up there.

    There also appears to be a keyed emergency shutoff switch on the dash.

    The wheel sensors might be useful for power/speed measurements. I wonder if you've stumbled across a higher power (120kWh?) AWD test mule.

    Edit: Nope, the wire on the pillar runs to the wheel sensors. No idea what that is on the roof, then.
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    EVangelist mike's Avatar
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    I wonder if it is ballast weight on the roof rack, possibly to simulate increased center of gravity for Model X (along with whatever was mounted in back seats).
    They could be evaluating driving dynamics of the AWD system.

    Edit: Also looks like the fender lining has been removed, at least for the rear right wheel (third photo)

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    Looks a WHOLE lot like an autonomous driving test bed...emergency red stop button would be the biggest clue (take over manual control), with the large box top containing myriad sensors and the "gas tank" in the back likely a beefy server. Wheel dynamics can be tested in a more controlled track envrionment...

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