Tesla's upcoming electric semi truck will be able to drive itself

Krales  The Verge

Krales The Verge

If successful in its pursuits, Tesla could disrupt the truck manufacturers, the energy sector, and the drivers themselves.

The electric-semi truck from Tesla will reportedly be capable of "platooning", and the Silicon Valley automaker wants to test the technology in the state of Nevada.

Reuters has seen emails between Tesla and the Nevada DMV where the two sides discussed "potential road tests" of the truck's self-driving capabilities.

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DHL, for example, already uses an entirely hybrid-electric trucking fleet in Manhattan, and plans to be fully electric in the next 30 years, while Google's parent Alphabet and Uber Technologies are pursuing self-driving trucks. However, Tesla has been a leader in self-driving luxury cars and it might bring some of its early expertise to gain a lead in self-driving automobiles against competitors.

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"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", Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to Nevada DMV official April Sanborn.

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The email exchange shows that the vehicle company is putting self-driving technology into an electric truck, which it plans to unveil in September 2017. Peloton considers platooning as an important precursor to autonomy when it comes to long-haul driverless trucks, in order to increase safety and efficiency.

Tesla declined to comment on the matter, while Nevada officials confirmed that the company had not yet been given a license for the testing. Tesla offers semi-autonomous features on all of its current models in the form of Autopilot, which costs an additional $5,000 at the time of purchase.

The company's main task over the next year is to get its lower-priced Model 3 electric auto into volume assembly at high quality, a process CEO Elon Musk has called "production hell".

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"Your cargo essentially becomes the battery", Viswanathan said of the massive batteries that would be needed to make range competitive with diesel.

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