Tesla semi truck to test self-driving, capable of 'platooning'

Cesar Mills
August 11, 2017

The company also had plans to meet Wednesday with Department of Motor Vehicles officials in California to discuss the plans, according to Reuters and Bloomberg.

CEO Elon Musk revealed during Tesla's 2017 Shareholder meeting that the company has been meeting with several heavy-duty trucking companies on development of a Tesla Semi prototype that can be driven like a "sports car".

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.

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. 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. However, it's still unclear whether the lead vehicle would have a driver or operate autonomously with a person in the front seat to monitor safety. This mode will have at least two trucks moving one after the other in close proximity (the second one automatically follows the first).

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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.

Zamani did not mention any dates for potential road tests but inquired about the terms of obtaining an AV testing license. Last October, the Silicon Valley startup Otto used an autonomous truck to ship beer in Colorado.

Tesla declined to comment.

While Musk has previously stated aims to build an electric truck, Tesla has yet to announce any autonomous driving aims for the vehicles, which are seen as the next evolution of greener and safer road freight.

Other reports by GizPress

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