Tesla wants to test its electric semi sans human drivers

Yolanda Curtis
August 11, 2017

There will be more than one of these self-driving trucks, with Reuters reporting on a viewed email between Tesla and Nevada's DMV. The information also apparently describes Tesla's desire to create long-haul electric semis that can drive themselves in "platoons", potentially following behind a lead truck piloted by a human driver.

Tesla said earlier this year it will unveil an electric big rig in September.

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". He tweeted in April that it would be revealed in September.

Developing autonomous or self-driving vehicles have become a common aims of the Silicon Valley companies. 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.

Reuters reports that emails uncovered between Tesla and Nevada's DMV discuss testing of prototype trucks across the California-Nevada border "in a platooning and/or Autonomous mode without having a person in the vehicle". California DMV is working with California Highway Patrol on writing rules governing semi-trucks that need to be tested as autonomous vehicles before they're legally allowed free access to roads.

Tesla's truck program is being led by VP of Trucks and Programs Jerome Guillen who has a long history in the long-haul trucking industry, having previously worked at Diamler and was General Manager of New Product Development at Freightliner Trucks.

However, neither California officials nor Tesla would confirm the Reuters reports when contacted by Overdrive.

Tesla offers semi-self driving features on all of its current vehicles in the form of Autopilot that costs customers an additional $5,000. Ars has reached out to Tesla for comment and we'll update if we receive a response.

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