Tesla seeking to test driver-free electric trucks on public roads

Tesla's teaser image of the semi truck

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in April that the company is working on pushing a long-haul electric semi truck to market, which is set to be formally revealed in September.

An email exchange in May and June between Tesla and Nevada DMV representatives included an agenda for a June 16 meeting, along with the Nevada Department of Transportation, to discuss testing of two prototype trucks in Nevada, according to the exchange seen by Reuters.

The Reuters report also mentioned that the semis would be outfitted with autonomous functions, so they could traverse the nation's highways without a driver in the front seat.

Luxury electric vehicle maker Tesla reportedly plans to start testing a self-driving semi-truck. This type of technology has been seen by some as a forerunner to full autonomy, as it could allow for one human driver in the lead, with multiple autonomous trucks following behind him or her.

The idea of "platooning" autonomous semis is an old one.




Will Tesla be the first to bring automated trucks to the masses? Tesla plans to reveal the electric-semi truck next month. Platooning reduces the number of drivers that a shipping company would have to employ. At the time, Musk said that the truck would likely launch in September 2017, but that it wouldn't include any autonomous or driverless features. Otto was shortly thereafter sold to Uber, where it became embroiled in a scandal with the Nevada DMV for flouting the state's autonomous testing rules.

So far, Tesla has not applied for a license to test the self-driving trucks in the state of Nevada, but officials declined to comment further on how far discussions have progressed. It isn't putting all its testing eggs in the Nevada basket, and is also reported to be in talks with officials in California that a California DMV spokesperson called Jessica Gonzales told Reuters was "to talk about Tesla's efforts with autonomous trucks".

Several Silicon Valley companies developing autonomous driving technology are working on long-haul trucks.

With Tesla, there's always something new coming up to keep owners, buyers, and fans excited.

Lithium ion battery researcher Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University said electric long-haul trucking is not economically feasible yet.

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