Tesla To Demonstrate Self-Driving Coast-To-Coast Trip Next Year, Hands-Free Charging Included



One of the under-reported announcements from Tesla CEO Elon Musk following the Tesla self-driving release was that Tesla is planning on conducting a coast-to-coast demonstration drive of the new technology with no human intervention, not even for charging. This demo drive will apparently occur sometime next year.

Coast-to-coast Tesla trips have been done on countless occasions now, some even in Autopilot for the majority of the time, but this will be the first attempt at such a journey with absolutely no human intervention.

The question on everyone’s mind seem to be how will the self-driving Tesla get charged with no human intervention? Elon Musk provides the answer via a Twitter response:
chargingSo, that snake-like charger must be near ready then…it seems. Tesla has been working on the charger for well over a year, but we hadn’t heard a mention of it in quite some time now. The automated charger really is the last piece of the self-driving Tesla. No hands on the wheel in the future, no hands needed to charge ‘er up.

We look forward to Tesla’s demo drive and hope all goes as planned, but we do wonder if perhaps next year will be a bit too early to complete such an ambitious journey?

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45 Comments on "Tesla To Demonstrate Self-Driving Coast-To-Coast Trip Next Year, Hands-Free Charging Included"

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Very exciting news, but the regulatory approvals are many years away.

True, but prove of success is a requirement to getting approval, so the earlier they achieve it the better.

Sidenote on the article:
“we wonder” is a statement, not a question…

That Snake Charger worries me.I wouldn’t have any humans near it ,bending over to pick up anything off the ground while it’s activated & Functioning…..lol

That will be a truly groundbreaking achievement, if Tesla can actually do it.

But even as a Tesla fanboy, I’m rather skeptical. So regarding this claim, this Kansas boy says “I’m from Missouri — show me!”

What is even more impressive is that self driving truck that did a beer run πŸ™‚

So much for ever seeing a remake of “Smokey and the Bandit”. πŸ˜‰

The ‘snake’ seems so backwards from such a forward thinking company.
Maintenance on these, when installed country wide, would be a nightmare I would think

Agree! Make charging wireless! Put the charger on the ground and charge when the car is parked over it. I’m talking home chargers here. Heck, include the wireless charger in the price of the car. Wireless at SC locations might be difficult across the country with all the weather concerns. Mechanical can break down. Me getting out of my car and putting the charging cable to my car probably will not break.

Yup. Tesla is swimming upstream in refusing to consider wireless charging. They’ll have to change their tune soon, or the same thing will happen to Tesla that happened to Ford when it refused to offer its customers any paint color except black. (Sorry, Jay! πŸ˜‰ )

For that to work, you have to be in the car.
Remember you will be able to summon the car to you from anywhere, even across the continent.

Most superchargers could remain manual at first. There only need to be enough snakes to handle the driverless cars being summoned by their owners or driving paying customers on the Tesla Network.

I believe JB explained the reason long ago, that wireless charging wastes about 10% of the energy, and that is unacceptable from an economic and environmental point of view.

Does wireless offer the same power levels as current superchargers? I don’t think I’d sacrifice any measurable amount of time to “save” the 30 seconds it takes to manually plug in…

At home, it would be great, but that’s not the point of the superchargers.

No, it does not. They are 1/10th speed of superchargers.

Supercharging is at least an order of magnitude larger (140kW vs 7-20kW). I doubt we will see wireless that fast anytime soon. The only higher kW automated charging systems are for charging electric buses. These are impressive at 150-450kW and use a mechanical pantograph.


Kenneth Aird said:

“…wireless charging wastes about 10% of the energy, and that is unacceptable from an economic and environmental point of view.”

Paying about 50Β’ per day for the convenience of not having to plug and unplug the car, is certainly workable from an economic viewpoint. People have amply demonstrated they’re willing to pay for convenience. Wireless charging will also be better for owners of outdoor chargers; there won’t be any problem with vandalism, copper thieves, or with ice getting into the plug in wintertime.

As far as the environmental hit… well, it’s only a 10% difference in the amount of energy consumed. The inefficiency doesn’t make me happy, but realistically I think it’s inevitable that wireless charging will become the standard. There are too many advantages for it not to.

You literally cannot DC fast charge wirelessly. Wireless is AC by definition and thus you’d need an expensive charger in the car.


Wireless is a non-starter for DCFC. It will not happen.

Let’s welcome the arrival of our new robot overlords and their pet charging snakes.

But seriously, robotic solutions are a cornerstone for Tesla. Thinking they would walk away from using robots to “refuel” shows a lack of understanding of the company IMHO.

If they can figure out how to get a car to drive itself across country, they can get the robot snake to work. It also allows for more bulky cabling and cooling systems which will be essential for future, higher rate SpCs.

speculawyer, can you briefly explain the reason that DC won’t work for wireless?


Wireless charging works by coupled oscillating magnetic fields, which creates an alternating electrical current.

It’s a basic limitation of the system.

On the other hand, this merely means moving the AC to DC converter from the offboard EVSE to onboard the car. It’s not really a technological barrier.

More important is the difficulty of pumping a high current thru wireless charging. I’d like to see some discussion and analysis of how easy it will be to pump 150 kW, or in the future say 500 kw, thru a wireless charger. If that will require very high voltages, that would make it a difficult engineering problem.

If superfast wireless charging of EVs proves problematic or too expensive, then it may be that future superfast charging will require a direct connection, using some sort of solid, pivoted and/or sliding metal connector, like EV bus chargers.

Yes, it can be done in theory. But to do so will require much more expensive and I assume larger charger electronics within the car.

And I wonder about the FCC & safety issues of a high power wireless charger.

One reason is that current wireless charging scaled up will cause huge problems for any kind of radio. You can’t get the phase noise down to zero, which means you have all kinds of harmonics into MHz and low GHz range in very large amplitude as to wipe out the radios. As an example, even 90% efficient of 100 kW means 10 kW. Depending on type of phase noise, that could be like fully open 1000 W (10% of total leakage) microwave oven in some radio bands. This may not be a problem if it’s the only thing in middle of nowhere, but not when it’ll kill just about all radios along the highway. Better is to up the frequency so that harmonics only jam sub-millimeter military stuff (and who cares about those, right?) It could be done with something like resonant cavity, but those are only about 50% efficient. At that point, might as well use hydrogen and FCEV. Some might argue that it’s on the ground and the beam can be directional, which is easier with millimeter wave than kHz range they’re using now. But we’re all familiar with single slit diffraction experiment from Physics, aren’t we? With… Read more »

Thanks for taking the time to write that, Sparky.

If there is that much RF (Radio Frequency) noise, then it’s going to be illegal to set up such a station. For one thing, that would be a danger to anyone with a pacemaker, for the same reason that an unshielded microwave oven is.

There may be possible technical solutions, such as putting the charging stall inside a Faraday cage to block the radio interference.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that practical solutions have to be affordable, and not just possible in the engineering sense. If we lose sight of that, then we become like the “fool cell” fanboys, practicing invincible ignorance in pretending practical limitations to the tech don’t exist. (And to avoid an off-topic argument: It’s not that the fuel cells themselves are impractical; it’s that using compressed hydrogen for fuel is impractical.)

My point being that wireless DCFC level of power will cost so much and inefficient that H might be preferable. I think we can agree how impractical H is, though my perspective is from money angle. With enough money, of course H and wireless DCFC could work.

When even many wired Chademo chargers cause AM radio to get wiped out on all channels, you can see why having it wireless could cause far bigger problems (eg, air-tight and thick Faraday cage), which means even more money and less practical.

Thanks, guys, for this info. Makes sense, but I had not considered any of this before. Excellent points.

I want to know what happens to a cat that crawls between the 150W wireless transmitter and the wireless charger within the car.

That depends on aperture size and how long of an exposure cat was under as well as absorption, but I suspect not much for the cat as it will move away quickly.

Speculawyer . . . he’s not just an lawyer, he is also an electrical engineer. πŸ˜‰

You gave up the right to be called an engineer when you donned on that lawyer hat. πŸ˜‰

Murder someone
Dump body in Tesla
Set autopilot to cross the US 1000 times using automated charging
Prefect Crime?

Well how you could do it is slaughter Tesla owner and dump body in car’s truck. Then have the Tesla drive across the county and go plug into a lake or river.

Or you could hack into the computer on the Tesla and get rid of the origin of were the car came from and send the car on a 1000 mile trip across the county.

If the body is the owner, then Tesla will have the car location info once the owner is reported missing.

If the body is not the owner but a stolen car, then the owner of the car will report it stolen and the car will be stopped by Tesla.

If the owner is murderer, they have linked themselves directly to the crime. The car could probably drive for a while but it will eventually be pulled over because the registration tags will become out of date or it will break down.

Except that the onboard computers are in communication with Tesla servers 100% of the time, and AFAIK track every car’s location all the time as well (not for nefarious purposes — for collecting data for the autopilot for map refinement & algorithm improvement). That how,within hours of someone complaining their Tesla crashed int oa parked when they were parking, Tesla can come out with a statement the car wasn’t using the auto-park feature and the accelerator pedal was depressed by the user.

I think the vehicle log even knows when the trunk is opened/closed, so they’d even know what possible locations the body was dumped at.

Casey Anthony approves!

I don’t know but I am putting that into a movie plot!

What’s funny is I did once make a storyline about a group of self driving cars revolting and then driving across the county. What I’m shocked now is with the Tesla snake the self driving cars could in theory go across the county on their own.

Not good. =)

Now, my Tesla will be able to run away from home…

Are we going to issue “Red Alerts” for run away Tesla?

coast to coast summon…….meh.

No thanks.

“The brain is trained so it
can drive to Spain.”

“By George, I think they’ve got it!!!”

This means that a 100 kWh battery is more than enough and I don’t think we will see a bigger size. Simply because the car can always charge itself. If depleted then it will go to the nearest charger, charge and come back. As for long distance travelling, well 100 kWh is plenty even if the car is hauling only goods and no humans. It will just take the correct route and charge as it goes. If it takes longer to charge while it is crossing the USA so be it. We will have our goods delivered free of charge for the fuel, and with no driver. I ask you is that not a quantum leap forward? None of the others like GM etc will have that in the next 5 years. They do not have a Supper charger network of their own yet.

Alaa said:

“This means that a 100 kWh battery is more than enough and I don’t think we will see a bigger size. Simply because the car can always charge itself.”

Not true. Towing even a moderate sized trailer with a Model X is said to cut the range in half. So there is already a market for a 200 kWh battery pack for a Tesla car.

And the market for larger capacity packs will increase in future years. A BEV pickup will certainly need more than 100 kWh. So will larger, heavier cars and light trucks. How many kWh will a large Rolls-Royce need? A lot more than 100 kWh, that’s for sure!

“640k [of computer RAM] ought to be enough for anybody.” — attributed to Bill Gates, 1981

Exactly. If they develop a battery that has 7x the capacity of today, for same cost and weight, are people saying they wouldn’t want that? I certainly would. The thing to remember is we all think in terms of gas cars at the moment. With an EV you drive mostly short distances and occasionally drive long distances. After the long distance you top up progressively every day until you have a full charge again, ready for that next big trip. Consider the mobile phone, who would have thought that old brick phone would some day become the super low power mini devices we have today? Wireless charging will get a lot more investment, a break through is inevitable, and next thing you know we have GW power possible to beam around the world. The future is always an interesting place to get to. I don’t think the snake is the right answer ultimately, it works right now with what we have, but how about a cable that drops from the bottom of the car and mates to a socket in the road? Or maybe like the third rail in the train network, you park your car and some sort of… Read more »

GO TESLA GO…innovation is in your DNA. All the naysayers and haters can kiss your arse.

Why not put large covered connectors at the bottom of the car. Drive on plate and connectors engage. Could be just for supercharging – you wouldn’t have cable issues with heat and the robotics involved would seem a lot simpler. KISS

How would you keep dirt, dust, mud, etc from getting onto the contacts when the covers open? That would require frequent cleaning by hand, which would be problematic with the location on the underside of the car.

There have been problems reported with Supercharger charging plugs getting dirty, and those aren’t even subjected to getting splashed with dirty water and mud from the roads.

Bidet works for toilet, why not for superchargers? Instead of “snake device”, it would be robotic hand and toilet paper. Here’s a suggestion for robotic hand. πŸ™‚


You want fast high speed wireless charging two words: Tesla Coil πŸ˜›