Tesla autonomous semi-trucks will move in platoons, prototype coming soon

Javier Stokes
August 12, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced over 12 months ago that he was planning to produce a heavy-duty electric truck.

Tesla is now involved in an email discussion with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regarding the same, as quoted 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.

Tesla is working on self-driving electric semi-trucks that can move in "platoons" behind a designated lead vehicle, Reuters reported this week.

Soon you might see self-driving semis on the road to Las Vegas. Some of these tech firms are working on "platooning" technology which allow drivers to rest, while the automobile itself and trucks behind will follow the leader truck. There are now millions of truck drivers in the USA and, as reported by The Guardian, there is a "strong undercurrent of denial" that automation and autonomous vehicles will replace any jobs. Development of a Tesla truck is already underway, however - it isn't just an electric truck. Peloton considers platooning as an important precursor to autonomy when it comes to long-haul driverless trucks, in order to increase safety and efficiency. 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.

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The Nevada approach makes sense as the state has form in the area, with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) testing an autonomous Freightliner Cascadia, dubbed the Inspiration, in the state to much fanfare in 2015.

A self-driving Tesla semi truck is in the works.

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"To insure we are on the same page, our primary goal is the ability to operate our prototype test trucks in a continuous manner across the state line and within the States of Nevada and California in a platooning and/or Autonomous mode without having a person in the vehicle", Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to Nevada DMV official April Sanborn.

From that it was obvious to us that the technology would be applied to the upcoming Tesla semi truck. Ars has reached out to Tesla for comment and we'll update if we receive a response.

Musk has said that potential customers are eager to get a Tesla electric long-haul truck, but he faces doubt that the company can deliver.

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