Tesla: Self-Driving Semi-Trucks On The Way

Tesla's teaser image of the semi truck

Platooning, meanwhile, is seen as a way to reduce fuel consumption significantly among trucks with internal combustion engines (which, of course, the Tesla semi would not have). The e-mails seemed to indicate that Tesla's semis would "platoon", that is, drive in a formation such that a number of trucks could follow a lead vehicle.

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

Tesla's latest project isn't completely new to the industry, but it does combine autonomy and sustainability - which other companies, so far, have pursued separately - and that may give Tesla a leg up in the brewing competition. The advantages of platooning is that it's theoretically safer-if the lead truck slows down, the rest automatically follow.

"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", Zamani wrote.

Self-driving trucks haven't been tested on Nevada roads yet.

Self-driving cars, though, have been tested on California roads. Then, on July 10, Zamani asked the DMV for testing license terms. (Otto later claimed it did in fact have an engineer farther back in the cab of the truck.) It appears Tesla learned Uber's lesson and contacted the state's DMV first, although the Nevada DMV said that Tesla has not yet applied for the necessary permits to test an autonomous semi in the state. At the time, Musk said that the truck would likely launch in September 2017, but that it wouldn't include any autonomous or driverless features.

With Tesla, there's always something new coming up to keep owners, buyers, and fans excited. They declined to comment further. Development of a Tesla truck is already underway, however - it isn't just an electric truck.

While established trucking companies and truck manufacturing startups have poured resources into electrifying local package delivery fleets, battery range limitations have largely kept the industry from making electric trucks that travel across swaths of the country.

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