Tesla's autonomous trucks will move in platoons, report says


Tesla Inc.is developing self-driving trucking technology that may be ready to test soon, according to Reuters.

Tesla's plans were made public following an email discussion between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), as seen by Reuters.

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

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.

Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, and is about to start manufacturing the lower-priced Model 3 auto. Waymo, the Alphabet company created from the Google self-driving vehicle project, has also recently revealed that it's also in the early stages of creating autonomous truck tech.

Some companies also are working on technology for "platooning", a driving formation where trucks follow one another closely.

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The industry is seen as lucrative, due to the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic that trucks face on highways. In the paperwork, Tesla would have to explain to the DMV how they have tested the truck and safety measures.

The fact that Tesla is working on an electric truck is not new.

Self-driving cars, though, have been tested on California roads. Last October, the Silicon Valley startup Otto used an autonomous truck to ship beer in Colorado.

"Nevada officials confirmed the meeting with Tesla had occurred and said that Tesla had not applied for a license so far". They declined to comment further.

"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.