Tesla is set to unveil its all-electric truck, known as Tesla Semi, next month and the automaker is apparently now seeking to test its prototypes for platooning and self-driving in Nevada and California.
The company needs approval to test autonomous driving vehicles and in an attempt to secure approval to cross state lines with its prototype test trucks, Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to Nevada DMV official April Sanborn in an email obtained by Reuters:
“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,”
Platooning, which consists of traveling in close formation in order to reduce drag and increase efficiency, is becoming increasingly popular with companies developing self-driving technologies for trucks since it’s safer to implement than with human drivers.
Tesla is now apparently also working on the technology for its Tesla Semi project.
Reuters reports that Tesla has met with the Nevada DMV, but it has yet to apply for a license and they are also meeting with the California DMV today.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk already released quite a bit of information about the upcoming vehicle – including the first teaser pictured above.
He said that Tesla Semi will have the “highest weight capability with long-range”. The CEO also added that it will out-torque any diesel truck and that it will use “a bunch” of Model 3 electric motors.
After being unveiled next month, Musk said that he expects the vehicle to quickly go into production and reach ‘scale production’ in ’18 to 24 months’.
The vehicle was already expected to feature some autonomous driving capabilities based on Tesla’s Autopilot program, but it’s not clear to what level yet. The teaser image shows that there are no side view mirrors, which indicates either autonomous driving or at least cameras.
But Musk said last year that he expects truck drivers will still be needed for ‘a few years‘ and that Tesla aims for the truck to be “fun to drive”, which indicated that Tesla Semi could possibly not be fully autonomous. It makes it particularly interesting that Tesla is now seeking to test its trucks “without having a person in the vehicle.”
At the Tesla’s 2017 Annual Shareholder Meeting in June, Musk hyped the unveiling planned for September when mentioning unannounced “things”:
“I really recommend showing up for the semi truck unveiling – maybe there’s a little more than what we are saying here.”
What could that be? Let us know in the comment section below.