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Tesla Wants to test Autonomous Electric Trucks on Public Roads

Electric car maker Tesla is looking to begin tests of its driverless electric trucks on public roads, it has emerged. Reports in the Guardian state that leaked communications between the company and Nevada’s vehicle regulators reveal Tesla’s plans. The leaked correspondence show that Tesla is developing autonomous electric trucks that will be able to travel as a fleet or convoy that will follow a lead vehicle.

Tesla’s Platoon of Driverless Electric Trucks

Tesla Driverless Electric Trucks
A concept image of Tesla’s driverless electric truck

The revelation of Tesla’s intentions may not be much of a shock given the company has previously released teaser images of its truck. The electric vehicle company is also planning to unveil the truck at an event planned for September 2017. However, reports of the company seeking permission for tests on public roads shows it is further ahead than previously imagined.  Leaked transcripts of Tesla’s email to the Nevada DMV, included the following;

“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.”

Details in the application show that Tesla wants to develop driverless electric trucks that would move freight in numbers. This ‘platoon’ would consists of one lead vehicle that is automatically followed by other trucks in close formation.

Autonomous Trucks go Mainstream

If granted, Tesla will join Google’s Waymo, and Uber in taking on the commercial transportation sector. The highly competitive industry is the obvious step after self-driving consumer vehicles and is now firmly part of the race to develop autonomous vehicles and future cars.

As the market leader in electric vehicles, Tesla head Elon Musk has mentioned working on electric trucks previously. However, the company has never made its plans public either. The leaked correspondence is the clearest indication yet of those aims.

At the same time a number of established auto-makers and Silicon Valley tech companies are pursuing electric vehicle ambitions of their own. Much of the attention on autonomous vehicles has been on smaller, consumer cars. But the focus is now shifting to include heavy duty trucks and will see driverless trucks going mainstream too.

No doubt Tesla will reveal details of its self-driving trucks and tests soon enough. Stay tuned for further updates on that score right here at FUTR Tech Magazine.


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