Tesla looking to start testing autonomous lorry in "platoon" formation

Alain Brian
Août 11, 2017

Tesla is planning to test its upcoming autonomous semi-truck without a human driver onboard, Reuters has learned.

Tesla wants an electric long-haul semi-truck that is able to drive itself and move in what Tesla calls "platoons" with other autonomous big rigs following a lead truck. But an email correspondence between the automaker and Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has added a twist to the story, hinting that the Musk-owned giant is developing a self-driving electric semi truck and could soon conduct "platoon tests" for the same. Industry rumours say that Tesla is already in talks with authorities of the American states of California and Nevada to permit the trials of its new truck on public roads.

It had previously been reported that Tesla is working on a heavy-duty electric semi-truck and plans to unveil it 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 auto.

Some companies also are working on technology for road trains, a driving formation where trucks follow one another closely.

"However, the time-frame during which even platooning can safely be delivered without a driver in the vehicle remains to be seen and we believe, as per other autonomous technologies, that deployment with full "hands-off and eyes-off" will take longer than many anticipate". The advantages of platooning is that it's theoretically safer-if the lead truck slows down, the rest automatically follow. "On July 10, Zamani inquired further to the Nevada DMV about terms for a testing license, an email seen by Reuters shows". Tesla certainly won't be the last to pursue autonomous tech for commercial purposes.

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

Tesla declined to comment on the matter, referring Reuters to the previous statements by Musk, who has discussed the truck in tweets and at the annual shareholder meeting.

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