By Tony Barthel
While a lot of people not familiar with Tesla cars see them as regular cars with electric drivetrains, those who have or are familiar with them know they’re very different than that. Yeah, yeah, they drive and stop and all of that, and many know that they have some form of automated driving features. But a Tesla really isn’t an ordinary car at all.
What a Tesla is, is a computer that happens to be able to transport you. Like a computer, a Tesla can get updated over the air and the features it has today may pale in comparison to what the same vehicle has in a few years. The self-driving aspect is probably the most obvious example of that.
So, if you buy a Tesla today you’ll likely have something even better a few years down the road thanks to updates and changes that came your way through the magic of the Internet. Which will eventually mean Starlink. Which is another Elon Musk creation.
How does this relate to RVs?
Since this is an RV review column, I’m sure you’re wondering just how this relates to RVs at all. It does. When Tesla announced the Cybertruck more than a quarter-million people made reservations to get one in the first week. Today it’s estimated that there may be more than 650,000 preorders of the unusual-looking vehicle.
Ford would shoot its own momma for single-year sales of 650,000 units.
But, since it’s kind of a pickup truck, one of the things people like to put in pickups is campers. With that in mind, the principals of streamit.live, Lance King and Bill French, took their experience in cyber security and artificial intelligence and created a drop-in pickup camper called the CyberLandr™ that’s every bit as Tesla-esque as the pickup it rides in.
Yes, I wrote “in.”
The CyberLandr, as the camper is called, is as different from any camper you’ve seen today as a Tesla is from any car you’ve driven. Unless it’s a Tesla, of course.
Know, first, that final details of the CyberLandr haven’t been finalized simply because the company hasn’t been able to get a Cybertruck to detail out some aspects of the vehicle. There are also new technologies that haven’t been totally dialed in. But the company is hoping to deliver the first CyberLandr campers with the initial deliveries of the Cybertruck – which could be sometime by the end of this year.
Like the truck it rides in, the CyberLandr is very software-dependent with advanced computer systems thanks to Nvidia systems. There are cameras and sensors on the unit, and the team is using their experience in artificial intelligence to make the camper a better experience.
The CyberLandr fits into the odd-shaped bed of the Cybertruck, and can fit completely inside the back when it’s closed up. If you haven’t seen the reveal, the truck’s bed has a sliding tonneau cover that can completely enclose it.
So to facilitate going from this small space to a full-on camper, the CyberLandr has a three-section lift mechanism that lifts the roof of the camper up – opening it up in three sections to make it fully walkable. There is another mechanism that extends the camper at the same time to lengthen it to the full length of the bed with the tailgate down.
While this lifting and extending is going on, there’s also a set of stairs that folds down. In just a few moments you’ve gone from something that fits completely in the bed of the Cybertruck to a full camper. Magical.
Using smart technology, the back door is a roll-up door. If you’ve been to Europe and seen the roll-up shutters on windows, you’ll already be familiar with this. To get in, the camper “sees” you, authorizes you to get in and out, and opens the door.
This is not unlike your iPhone “seeing” you, knowing who you are and unlocking the phone.
The shutter-style door can also be closed part-way with screens between the slats so that it’s a screen door, as well, letting air in. Ever since my first trip to Europe (well, second, since I was born in Switzerland), I’ve wanted to put these remarkable shutters on my house. Now I can get them as the door to the CyberLandr.
Inside you’ll notice there’s a shower to the left of the entrance and the toilet. In that space is a dry toilet, as we looked at in the Imperial Outdoors XPlore RV a few days ago. If you want to know more, there’s a link to that article – but this also eliminates a black tank.
Under the bed of the Cybertruck is a trunk/well. That’s where the CyberLandr plans to store all the water facilities for the camper. Part of that system is a very advanced filtration system that uses both multi-stage filters and UV – so that the gray water is so clean you can drink it.
Before you say “Eww,” know that there is not real “new” water on this planet – all water is recycled.
But what that means is that whether you’re using a campground pressurized fresh water system or recycling shower water, it all gets very effectively filtered. This means that the tank size is as close to irrelevant as possible.
The main living space is a bit small, but the use of space is outstanding. There are two chairs that come with the camper which can be used as chairs (inside or outside), recliners (take them outside to watch the sunset) or even the bed. The company had a ladder manufacturer make the chairs so they were sturdy and folded up nicely.
In the main space is a counter along the front edge of the camper which has a large, deep-bowl sink and a two-burner hidden induction cook top. This gives lots of counter space when the sink is covered, but then also allows you to use the various kitchen bits when needed.
Get this: As mentioned, everything in this camper is “smart.” So you can just turn on the water faucet like any other or say “give me a gallon of water at 123° F” and the CyberLandr will deliver.
In fact, that kind of smart technology is built into the camper in almost all areas.
Instead of curtains, the windows feature electrochromic technology so you can ask the camper to darken the windows at night. But wait, there’s more.
The CyberLandr can also automatically darken the windows on the sunny side of the camper to reduce glare and heat inside. Then it can change the tint in the windows to lighten the interior or assist the climate control in managing interior temperatures.
Speaking of smart: One of the things the team discussed is the camera and monitoring system. You could literally be alerted if there’s a bear outside, for example, or an intruder.
Your mileage won’t vary
I have been on a surprising number of panels and calls lately talking about the future of the RV industry. One of the recurring sentiments I share is that RVs are going to have to actually care about aerodynamics as more electric drive systems get employed. Shoving a big box through the air is something automakers have worked on and really overcome to a great extent. Now it’s time for the RV industry to do the same.
In the case of the CyberLandr, they do overcome this by fitting entirely into the bed of the truck. Once a vehicle reaches highway speeds, a majority of the power needed is to overcome wind resistance. That’s just not the case here. So the company estimates less than a 5 percent impact on range for the Cybertruck.
Power to the People
Oh, and on the subject of power, Tesla has already said that the Cybertruck’s massive battery will also be available to the entire truck. So the CyberLandr doesn’t have any batteries of its own, –it just uses the huge batteries already in the truck.
But there are also huge solar panels that form the roof of the CyberLandr and those can actually provide charge to the Cybertruck’s battery. The CyberLandr taketh, but it also giveth while you’re camperith…ing. Naw, that sentence didn’t work.
I already know there are going to be a lot of commenters who are going to say they would never want something like this. They’re going to bemoan the water filtration, invalidate the folding camper idea and all of that. I see you.
But there are also more than 650,000 people sitting on pins and needles waiting for their Cybertruck to be delivered. And I know a good number of those people aren’t going to think twice about plopping a $49,000 camper into the back of it. Especially since it really doesn’t degrade much of the functionality of the Cybertruck and opens up a whole set of possibilities.
Of course, the obvious use is for camping. But it would be nice to be at the kids’ soccer game and have the only clean toilet for miles around. Or a refrigerator full of beer at a tailgating event. You could be at an outdoor music festival and just ask the truck to pop up the camper and have a great place to sleep it all off.
I also know a lot of our readers are die-hard diesel fans. But, when you think about it, even a freight train is an electric vehicle. Did you know that? Yep. The diesel engines only act as generators; it takes an electric motor to pull a freight train.
Which isn’t far from how much power the Cybertruck is promised to have. So, yeah, I think it’s ugly, too. But the tech behind it and, if you get a CyberLandr, in it, might make the Cybertruck the hottest thing since sliced bread.
“Everything that attaches to a Tesla should be as smart as the Tesla,” said Bill French.