Tesla developing self-driving electric truck


Reuters reports that Tesla is now developing self-driving technology for semi-trucks and that once the tech is ready Tesla wants to test it in Nevada.

The company is proposing to test an electric semi-truck that can drive itself and move in "platoons" that automatically follow a lead vehicle. Tesla has already confirmed that it is working on an all-electric semi truck, set to be revealed in more detail at a planned event teased by Elon Musk to take place in September.

Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, and is about to start manufacturing the lower-priced Model 3 vehicle.

The latest report shows that Tesla is ratcheting up efforts in the long-haul trucking industry, which is considered a prime contender for autonomous vehicle technology. Waymo, the Alphabet company created from the Google self-driving vehicle project, has also recently revealed that it's also in the early stages of creating autonomous truck tech. They see the industry as a prime early market for the technology, citing the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic trucks face on interstate highways and the benefits of allowing drivers to rest while trucks travel or the removal of human drivers altogether.

Self-driving cars, though, have been tested on California roads.

In a specific email between Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani and Nevada DMV official April Sanborn, the electric start-up says it wants to test prototypes in Nevada and California.

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Zamani did not mention any dates for potential road tests but inquired about the terms of obtaining an AV testing license. She said that the DMV was not aware of the level of autonomy in the trucks.

The company's main task over the next year is to get its lower-priced Model 3 electric vehicle into volume assembly at high quality, a process CEO Elon Musk has called "production hell".

The commitment was also made clear and repeated during the company's annual shareholder meeting in June.

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

Officials at Tesla, the California DMV and Nevada DMV were not immediately available to comment Thursday morning.