Tesla is looking to test a fleet of self-driving electric trucks in Nevada and California according to new details revealed in an email between the Silicon Valley-based electric car giant and Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The email, obtained by Reuters, suggests that Tesla has already developed the autonomous platooning technology that would allow trucks to self-drive at constant speed and draft in close proximity to one another. By eliminating the variable stop-and-go behavior of human driving, platooning technology can improve traffic safety and flow of traffic, while also reducing the amount of energy needed to travel between distances.
“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,” read the email by Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani to Nevada DMV official April Sanborn.
Though Nevada officials declined to provide details of the meeting, they did confirm that a meeting with Tesla had occurred and that the company had not yet applied for a testing license to operate its autonomous electric semi-trucks. If approved, this marks the first time any company is allowed to test a humanless self-driving truck in Nevada.
Tesla is also in discussion with California officials about “Tesla’s efforts with autonomous trucks”, said state DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez. According to a report from Reuters, Tesla had requested a meeting with state officials to discuss the matter on Wednesday. Tesla declined to comment.
The report by Reuters comes ahead of September’s Tesla Semi truck unveiling.
Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017
CEO Elon Musk revealed during Tesla’s 2017 Shareholder meeting that the company has been meeting with several heavy-duty trucking companies on development of a Tesla Semi prototype that can be driven like a “sports car”.
“We have shown it to a number of heavy-duty trucking companies, and they just want to know how many can they buy, and how soon,” Musk said at the time. Adding, “A lot of people don’t think you can do a heavy duty long-range truck that is electric. But, we are confident that this can be done.”
Tesla’s truck program is being led by VP of Trucks and Programs Jerome Guillen who has a long history in the long-haul trucking industry, having previously worked at Diamler and was General Manager of New Product Development at Freightliner Trucks.