Tesla Wants To Test Autonomous Semi-Trucks Soon

Tesla is indicating it’s serious about introducing an electric semi by seeking permission to test self-driving versions in California and Nevada.

Spokespeople for the Department of Motor Vehicles in California and Nevada confirmed meetings were scheduled in California for yesterday and previously held in Nevada.

California doesn’t yet have rules in place governing the testing of autonomous heavy trucks over 10,000 pounds, while light-duty vehicles have been tested there for a few years. 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.

Nevada has all vehicle types and weights covered, but Tesla hasn’t taken any formal action on it yet. The automaker will need to get a self-driving vehicle testing license in the state, but hasn’t done so yet according to a Nevada spokesperson.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk put out a few teasers in the spring, but had not mentioned the truck was going to be autonomous.

During a TED talk at 2017 TED Conference in Vancouver, Musk put out a teaser photo of the heavy-duty truck. Previously, he’d said it would be “seriously next level” and was slated to debut in September.

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 automakers is developing a semi-truck that can drive itself and travel in “platoons” that follow a lead vehicle.

Since October, Tesla has been adding fully autonomous functions to all Model S and Model X units being built, and announced that the new technology would later be applied to the Model 3. The company will have to wait until government officials approve operation of fully autonomous vehicles before those automated functions can be activated.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Semi Truck Teased At TED Conference

More driver-assistance features are being added to the Autopilot option available on Tesla vehicles. Tesla seems to be passing through scrutiny over the safety of using Autopilot since last year’s fatal crash in Florida.

Tesla may be able to tap into and fill a void left by ride-hailing giant Uber. That company is still enmeshed in a complex lawsuit filed by Google’s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit. Charges had been made in the suit against Uber, claiming that Waymo technology had been stolen and used in the Otto self-driving semi-truck that Uber had acquired.

Uber has since walked away from Otto and has been working on its own self-driving truck. However, it appears that the trial with Waymo will need to come to an end before Uber can turn its attention back to self-driving trucks.

Bloomberg


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