October 23, 2017

Tesla in talks to test self-driving trucks in Nevada

11 August 2017, 02:55 | Edward Lowe

In those documents, Tesla sought state approval to test a prototype of its electric semi in Nevada that will contain self-driving software.

Tesla is already in talks with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles according to an email discussion that the publication has seen.

California DMV officials told Reuters they were to meet Tesla yesterday to discuss the company's "efforts with autonomous trucks" as well.

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Technology would allow several trucks to self drive at a constant speed and near each other. Most analysts agree fully autonomous semi trucks won't be ready for another 10 years or more; platooning is a precursor to the self-driving technology.

"Platooning has the potential to significantly reduce the running costs for truck operators and is an easier bridge to a practical, commercial semi-autonomous application in the early 2020s", Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said Thursday in a note to investors.

In a specific email between Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani and Nevada DMV official April Sanborn, the electric start-up says it wants to test prototypes in Nevada and California. Daimler, Volvo, and other semi-truck makers have invested in the technology and carried out demonstrations on highways. That is, one lead truck provides the correct input and driving directions for the rest of the platoon to follow. Tesla seems to be passing through scrutiny over the safety of using Autopilot since last year's fatal crash in Florida.

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Tesla declined to comment on the matter, referring Reuters to the previous statements by Musk, who has discussed the truck in tweets and at the annual shareholder meeting.

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.

An official from a state authority of Nevada has confirmed that Tesla has not yet been granted a license for testing its upcoming truck automation technology.

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