Tesla wants to make its semi truck autonomous, test it in Nevada

11 August, 2017, 14:56 | Author: Becky Perry
  • Tesla's teaser image of the semi truck

The correspondence and meetings with state officials show that Tesla moving forward in a highly competitive area of commercial transport also being pursued by Uber and Alphabet's former Google auto company, now called Waymo.

Uber has also moved in a similar direction, acquiring the self-driving truck company Otto past year.

In order to discuss the possibility of these tests, Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to a Nevada DMV representative, "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".

While Tesla is yet to officially unveil its next-generation electric semi truck, a report in Reuters added a new turn to the already swirling rumors by claiming that the next-generation truck will have self-driving capabilities.

Platooning is viewed as a precursor to fully autonomous long-haul trucks, which are still widely assumed to be 10 years or more in the future.

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Tesla reportedly wanted to meet with Nevada to discuss testing of two prototype trucks, so it sounds like the project is quite far along.

Now some details may have leaked out, in the form of an e-mail conversation between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles seen by the Reuters news service.

This is relatively familiar territory for any company making serious investment in self-driving tech: Uber acquired Otto, a company founded by former Google self-driving vehicle team members dedicated to autonomous trucking, and it continues that work under its Advanced Technologies Group. Platooning is basically a driving formation where vehicles follow each other very 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". He made no reference to any dates for potential road tests. Tesla certainly won't be the last to pursue autonomous tech for commercial purposes.

"Nevada officials confirmed the meeting with Tesla had occurred and said that Tesla had not applied for a license so far". By comparison, the company's electric local package delivery trucks travel up to 80 miles on a full charge.

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