TESLA WORK­ING ON SELF-DRIVE TRUCKS

Car­maker plan­ning to test long-haul, elec­tric pro­to­type in Ne­vada, Cal­i­for­nia

New Straits Times - - Business - SAN FRAN­CISCO

TESLA Inc is de­vel­op­ing a long-haul, elec­tric semi-truck that can drive it­self and move in “pla­toons” that au­to­mat­i­cally fol­low a lead ve­hi­cle, and is get­ting closer to test­ing a pro­to­type, ac­cord­ing to an email dis­cus­sion of po­ten­tial road tests be­tween the car com­pany and the Ne­vada Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles (DMV).

Mean­while, Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials met with Tesla on Wed­nes­day “to talk about Tesla’s ef­forts with au­ton­o­mous trucks”.

The cor­re­spon­dence and meet­ing show that Tesla is putting self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy into the elec­tric truck it has said it plans to un­veil next month, and is ad­vanc­ing to­wards real-life tests, po­ten­tially mov­ing it for­ward in a highly com­pet­i­tive area of com­mer­cial trans­port also be­ing pur­sued by Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc and Al­pha­bet Inc’s Waymo.

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.

Sev­eral Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies de­vel­op­ing self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy are work­ing on long-haul trucks.

They see the in­dus­try as a prime mar­ket for the tech­nol­ogy, cit­ing the rel­a­tively con­sis­tent speeds and lit­tle cross-traf­fic trucks face on high­ways and the ben­e­fits of al­low­ing driv­ers to rest while trucks travel.

Some com­pa­nies also are work­ing on tech­nol­ogy for “pla­toon­ing”, a driv­ing for­ma­tion where trucks fol­low one an­other closely. If trucks at the back of the for­ma­tion were able to au­to­mat­i­cally fol­low a lead ve­hi­cle, that could cut the need for driv­ers.

Musk has said po­ten­tial cus­tomers are ea­ger to get a Tesla elec­tric long-haul truck, but he faces doubt that the com­pany can de­liver.

While es­tab­lished truck­ing com­pa­nies and truck man­u­fac­tur­ing star­tups have poured re­sources into elec­tri­fy­ing lo­cal pack­age de­liv­ery fleets, bat­tery range lim­i­ta­tions have largely kept the in­dus­try from mak­ing elec­tric trucks that travel across swaths of the coun­try. Reuters

BLOOMBERG PIC

Tesla Inc is putting self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy into the elec­tric truck it plans to un­veil next month, po­ten­tially mov­ing it for­ward in a highly com­pet­i­tive area of com­mer­cial trans­port.

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