Tesla wants to make its semi truck autonomous, test it in Nevada

Teaser for Tesla semi truck debuting in September

Teaser for Tesla semi truck debuting in September

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the electric-car maker has plans to introduce an electric-semi truck in the near future, but new information reveals the truck will use self-driving capabilities.

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 revealed the information after viewing an email exchange between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. The electric-car maker also reportedly met with the California DMV to discuss “efforts with autonomous trucks.”

The platoon technology described by Tesla would allow its electric-semi truck to engage in a lead-follow scenario. That is, one lead truck provides the correct input and driving directions for the rest of the platoon to follow. In reality, it would create a pack of autonomous trucks that follow incredibly close together, which also cuts down aerodynamic drag.

Tesla isn’t alone in the pursuit of platooning technology, however. Daimler, Volvo, and other semi-truck makers have invested in the technology and carried out demonstrations on highways. The technology is also seen favorably by truck makers since the vehicles don’t face cross-traffic scenarios and operate at a constant speed on highways. 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.

So far, Tesla has not applied for a license to test the self-driving trucks in the state of Nevada, but officials declined to comment further on how far discussions have progressed. Tesla plans to reveal the electric-semi truck next month.

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