Tesla to manufacture driverless 'platooning' semi-trucks

Dianna Christensen
August 12, 2017

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 vehicle.

Plans to develop the production of electric truck CEO of Tesla Elon Musk announced a year ago.

Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, including the lower-priced Model 3, which it is beginning to manufacture.

The platoon technology described by Tesla would allow its electric-semi truck to engage in a lead-follow scenario.

The industry is seen as lucrative, due to the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic that trucks face on highways.

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

Will Tesla be the first to bring automated trucks to the masses?

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According to Reuters, based on a email obtained by them between Tesla and DMV, the automaker met with transportation department officials in Nevada to discuss about its plans to test a self-driving truck crossing between the states.

The Californian company was exchanging emails with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get approval of tests on public roads for two truck prototypes that will drive in Nevada and California. He made no reference to any dates for potential road tests.

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

We applaud Tesla's self-driving efforts and look forward to seeing the semi in the flesh later this year. Tesla certainly won't be the last to pursue autonomous tech for commercial purposes. In one of these exchanges, Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to DMV official April Sanborn about the agenda for a July 16 meeting. They declined to comment further.

Venkat Viswanathan, a lithium ion battery researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, said that electric long-haul trucking was not yet economically feasible yet, and that the massive batteries required to compete with the 500-mile range of diesel trucks would limit cargo carrying capacity.

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