Tesla is working on self-driving technology for its forthcoming electric semi truck, according to a Reuters report. The report, citing Tesla’s correspondence with Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), says that the technology would allow the electric semi truck to drive by itself and move in “platoons” that automatically follow a lead vehicle.
In an email to the Nevada DMV, Tesla sought permission 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”, which would be one of the first tests not including a human driver in the vehicle if permitted.
Several Silicon Valley companies developing autonomous driving technology are working on long-haul trucks including Uber and Waymo. They see the industry as a prime early market for the technology, citing the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic trucks face on interstate highways and the benefits of allowing drivers to rest while trucks travel. Some companies are working on technology for “platooning”, a driving formation where trucks follow one another closely.
Neither Tesla nor Elon Musk has mentioned autonomy in relation to their electric transport truck plans, though Tesla CEO did suggest potential surprises with the big vehicle unveiling this fall. Also, the company has been working a lot on auto pilot improvements, something Musk said during his most recent Tesla earnings call.