Truckla Gets An Open Source Charging Buddy

A red Tesla Model 3 converted into a pickup truck with a black lumber rack extending over the roof of the cab sits in a grey garage. A black and silver charging robot is approaching its charging port from the right side attached to a black cable. The charging bot is mostly a series of tubes attached to a wheeled platform and the charging connector itself is attached to a linear actuator to insert the charging device.

More than three years have passed since Tesla announced its Cybertruck, and while not a one has been delivered, the first Tesla truck, Truckla, has kept on truckin’. [Simone Giertz] just posted an update of what Truckla has been up to since it was built.

[Giertz] and friend’s DIT (do-it-together) truck was something of an internet sensation when it was revealed several months before the official Tesla Cybertruck. As with many of our own projects, while it was technically done, it still had some rough edges that kept it from being truly finished, like a lack of proper waterproofing or a tailgate that didn’t fold.

Deciding enough was enough, [Giertz] brought Truckla to [Marcos Ramirez] and [Ross Huber] to fix the waterproofing and broken tailgate while she went to [Viam Labs] to build Chargla, an Open Source charging bot for Truckla. The charging bot uses a linear actuator on a rover platform to dock with the charging port and is guided by a computer vision system. Two Raspberry Pis power handle the processing for the operation. We’re anxious to see what’s next in [Giertz]’s quest of “picking up the broken promises of the car world.”

If you want to see some more EV charger hacks, check out this Arduino-Based charger and the J1772 Hydra.

11 thoughts on “Truckla Gets An Open Source Charging Buddy

    1. If an electric vehicle has two identical charging ports on either side, what carological gender is it? says:

      Neat hack overall and have been waiting for her to finish polishing the Tesla for a while now. Hope she is doing better too.

      I don’t know about you but I was not expecting to hear a David Attenburough deepfake of a hacked car charger thrusting into and depositing into an electric car port there though.

      More impressed with the deepfake quality to be honest. Robot is a neat idea and still needs quite a bit of work still (at least it has some automation) but sheesh that really does sound like David Attenburough. Pretty sure it is in fact not his voice but the quality is really getting there.

  1. For all the brains (and probably money) that went into this the physical platform of the charger robot feels really janky and over-complicated, but then so did Tesla’s attempt.

    Glad to see the truck still going and a project getting the finish it deserves though – I’m sure the Cybertruck will be along any day now… just like the robotaxis…

    1. I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t a bumper oriented solution. Something that looks like those concrete parking stops used to keep cars from rolling too far forward. Once the car stopped moving it would communicate to the charger. With the digital handshake was done, the licenses plate bracket would flip up to reveal a digital optical target and the charge port. The charging station could then use a simple X-Y gantry to line up on the port, and a linear actuator to plug in.

      This doesn’t negate the “fuel port” location of manual plugs, it can just be an extra option, similar to tow trucks having plugs in their brush guards for jumper cables.

      1. I suspect the problem here is that unless you did this with a roomba find-the-dock automated process, people would be ramming and destroying chargers all over the place because there are so many spectacularly bad drivers out there. Where I live, you almost can’t go anywhere and find a bus stop that has a still functional bench because people have hit them all.

        1. There is a more basic problem, they are using the best parking spaces in most lots as charge spots. So, of course, I just park my gas car there. F’ em.

          They should use the _worst_ spots in the lot for chargers. Otherwise they should just STFU when people park there.

  2. Too bad that Smyth Kit Cars isn’t interested in adding more to their line of Ute conversion kits. they make them for New Beetle, Dodge Charger, Jetta / Golf, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Impreza, and Audi A4 / S4.

    Adding Tesla Model 3 would be very nice because their kit would solve the problems of what to do with the rear doors and making a proper tailgate that’s not narrower than the rest of the bed. I bet they’d also come up with a hack to get 48″ minimum width to the bed floor, which Truckla is just shy of in the center.

    Their kits for some of the vehicles completely replace the rear body sides and rear doors with one piece fiberglass panels. The Charger kits use Dodge minivan taillights on either side of a Ford pickup tailgate, modified with a fiberglass addition to its top edge.

    With extensive build videos for all their kits as information and inspiration, it shouldn’t be hard for motivated and creative people to create a practical Ute conversion kit for Tesla Model 3.

    1. 4/7 are VW products…not just ‘hard no’ but ‘are you crazy?’.

      Bet the first step to install a bed on a new bug is ‘remove front bumper’. Seriously. The Germans have forgotten how to make cars in their pursuit of the Chinese market for status symbols.

      Are Europeans so desperate for pickup trucks they’re converting cars? How does that solve the basic problem with pickups in Europe (Thieves would take anything left in the bed for 5 minutes)?

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