Tesla to manufacture driverless 'platooning' semi-trucks

Tesla's teaser image of the semi truck

If self-driving trucks become predominant on the roads, it could steal business from Berkshire owned railroad Burlington Northern, Buffett hinted. If such automation technology works as desired, it would ultimately cut the need of having drivers in the following trucks.

Now some details may have leaked out, in the form of an e-mail conversation between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles seen by the Reuters news service. Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, including the lower-priced Model 3, which it is beginning to manufacture.

Reuters also reported that California DMV officials will meet with Tesla this week "to talk about Tesla's efforts with autonomous trucks".

It's a sure bet then, that Tesla's plans to automate its upcoming electric truck may come to fruition sooner than we thought possible. He made no reference to any dates for potential road tests. Peloton considers platooning as an important precursor to autonomy when it comes to long-haul driverless trucks, in order to increase safety and efficiency. In one of these exchanges, Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to DMV official April Sanborn about the agenda for a July 16 meeting.

According to the report, Tesla declined to comment on the matter, instead referring back to Musk's who has discussed the truck in tweets and at the annual shareholder meeting.




Vehicles that platoon must continually communicate with each other and the infrastructure around them, but the distances between them are far too short to allow a human driver to react in time to emergencies.

"It's going to be a cool product and will defy people's expectations on what an electric truck can do", Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors in May.

Venkat Viswanathan, a lithium ion battery researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, said that electric long-haul trucking was not yet economically feasible yet, and that the massive batteries required to compete with the 500-mile range of diesel trucks would limit cargo carrying capacity.

Diesel trucks used for cross-country hauls by United Parcel Service Inc can travel up to 500 miles (800 km) on a single tank, according to UPS's director of maintenance and engineering, global operations, Scott Phillippi.

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