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11 August 2017, 09:41 | Randall Craig
Krales The Verge
Luxury electric auto maker Tesla reportedly plans to start testing a self-driving semi-truck.
The Californian company was exchanging emails with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get approval of tests on public roads for two truck prototypes that will drive in Nevada and California.
The Reuters report also mentioned that the semis would be outfitted with autonomous functions, so they could traverse the nation's highways without a driver in the front seat.
Tesla is working on electric, self-driving trucks that can travel in "platoons" or road trains capable of following a lead vehicle, according to leaked correspondence with regulators.
"However, the time-frame during which even platooning can safely be delivered without a driver in the vehicle remains to be seen and we believe, as per other autonomous technologies, that deployment with full "hands-off and eyes-off" will take longer than many anticipate".
The idea of "platooning" autonomous semis is an old one.
Peloton Technology is working with Volvo on a similar platooning system to Tesla's trucks. If trucks at the back of the formation were able to automatically follow a lead vehicle, that could cut the need for drivers. It also offers most of the trucks decreased wind resistance, which could help increase an EV semi's range-a major concern given the weight freight companies load semis with. Reports indicate that the meeting may have, in part, revolved around testing autonomous trucks in the state, though neither party would confirm or deny. Last October, the Silicon Valley startup Otto used an autonomous truck to ship beer in Colorado.
Reuters has seen email discussions of potential road tests being negotiated between the company, which for a brief period this year was named the most profitable auto company in America, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Based on Tesla's work in the field of self-driving electric cars, you might think that the company's application to test big rigs would be a no-brainer.
Gonzalez declined to elaborate further and messages to Tesla seeking comment were not returned.
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