Tesla To Develop Self-Driving Semi-Truck, Will Test In California & Nevada

3 months ago by Mark Kane 50

Tesla Semi Rendered By Peisert Design

Tesla Semi Rendered By Peisert Design

A self-driving Tesla semi truck is in the works.

Tesla is heavily engaged in autonomous driving developments for cars. From that it was obvious to us that the technology would be applied to the upcoming Tesla semi truck.

Tesla

Circle the date: Tesla Semi debuts September 28th, 2017

Through an exclusive Reuters report, we received confirmation that Tesla is indeed working on a self-driving semi-truck that will debut in late September.

Tesla is apparently developing both a self-driving mode, as well as a platooning mode. This mode will have at least two trucks moving one after the other in close proximity (the second one automatically follows the first).

The Californian company was exchanging emails with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get approval of tests on public roads for two truck prototypes that will drive in Nevada and California.

“An email exchange in May and June between Tesla and Nevada DMV representatives included an agenda for a June 16 meeting, along with the Nevada Department of Transportation, to discuss testing of two prototype trucks in Nevada, according to the exchange seen by Reuters.

“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,” Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to Nevada DMV official April Sanborn. He made no reference to any dates for potential road tests.

No companies yet have tested self-driving trucks in Nevada without a person in the cab. On July 10, Zamani inquired further to the Nevada DMV about terms for a testing license, an email seen by Reuters shows.”

“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.”

We applaud Tesla’s self-driving efforts and look forward to seeing the semi in the flesh later this year.

Source: Reuters

Tags: , , , ,

50 responses to "Tesla To Develop Self-Driving Semi-Truck, Will Test In California & Nevada"

  1. Bacardi says:

    Overall a positive…There are going to be so many scenarios that we need to get out of way…

    In this one study, they put a fake turtle on the shoulder of a road and of 1000 cars, 6% went out of their way to “kill” the turtle…
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/drivers-intentionally-run-over-turtles-college-experiment_n_2371485.html

    The truck will be a target for a small minority and will be interesting to see what happens…

    1. speculawyer says:

      Let’s be clear…it is HUMAN drivers that tried to run over the turtle. Humans suck. Deplorables.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Let’s really be clear, it was a small population of humans who suck. One would hope this is the true sample of psychopaths and the aim should be to shrink their population.

      2. kubel says:

        Can they re-do the test and pack the fake turtles with nails and other sharp objects? That would be entertaining. Maybe those spike-strip tubes that allow for a slow tire deflation, so no innocent motorists are killed.

      3. ModernMarvelFan says:

        I bet that they (rubber turtle killers) all voted for Trump… Then again, it is South Carolina we are talking about. I thought it would have been at least 18%.

        1. scott franco says:

          No, the Trump turtle killers were %51…

          1. Nick says:

            Ahem. Less than 50% actually. ๐Ÿ™

            Welcome to the electoral college.

    2. scott franco says:

      That turtle was FAKE? What a rip….

  2. F150 Brian says:

    This is where real change can happen. Trucks burn a lot of fuel, are loud and the drivers have limited hours at the wheel.

    Imagine a world where near silent trucks shuffle our goods around in the night. Hope they’ll build automated forklifts too!

    1. SJC says:

      I am for EV big rigs and autonomous, at this stage Tesla should use their resources wisely by not getting distracted.

  3. ClarksonCote says:

    A truck that is also driverless would be a huge cost savings to the transportation industry, it becomes a no brainer to go electric at that point.

    That having been said, the amount of people out of jobs would be awful. If successful, I would think this is the kind of catalyst to begin discussing the idea of a Universal Income, like what Jay has referenced in the past.

    1. bro1999 says:

      My wife’s uncle is a coast to coast truck driver. Knowing Tesla and “Elon Time” though, his job is probably still quite safe.

      Interesting that even in Model 3 “production hell”, Elon has time for all these side projects. Guess hell isn’t so bad afterall.

      1. SparkEV says:

        I know, right? That guys has attention deficit disorder. Like a little child, he plays with toy rockets and toy semis when there’s much more pressing matter. He should be talking about Y! Or at the very least, 3 with ludicrous!

        1. Mister G says:

          Spark pat yourself on the back for waking up today, asking your Mom for breakfast, jerking off to internet porn, playing video games, asking your Mom for lunch, taking a dump, brushing your hair, watch Netflix, begging for $20, asking for dinner, play more video games fall asleep and repeat…oh I forgot to mention comment on this blog LOL stop hating lol

          1. bro1999 says:

            You write a whole paragraph personally and vulgarly insulting a fellow commentor, then say “stop hating”.

            You really can’t make this stuff up. Of course, it comes from a Tesla fanatic. I really hope the admins don’t condone this type of behavior.

            1. Mister G says:

              I’m a tesla cult member #(35367) not a fanatic. And when Elon gets attacked I have his back.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “Like a little child, he plays with toy rockets and toy semis when thereโ€™s much more pressing matter.”

          ๐Ÿ™„

          Hey Sparky, why don’t you just post “I’M JEALOUS OF ELON MUSK. I’M JEALOUS OF ELON MUSK. I’M JEALOUS OF ELON MUSK…” 100 times.

          Just in case, you know, there’s someone out there who doesn’t see the obvious.

      2. speculawyer says:

        Elon is often over-optimistic on his forecasts and I believe that is very true for autonomous driving. Especially since they took a big step backwards when they dumped MobilEye to build their own. (Which was probably a good move but set them back a year at least.)

        But in the end, autonomy WILL happen. It will probably require a bit more computing power and maybe some more sensors than they are putting their cars right now. But it will happen. We had better think about what we do then. The universal basic income may be needed to prevent serious social disruption. I don’t know.

        1. Rightofthepeople says:

          This concept of “universal income” and other socialist utopia ideas is not the answer to all (or any) of our problems. Government taking from those who have and giving to those who have less is not the answer. Never has been, never will be. Long haul truck drivers aren’t the first group of workers to be displaced by advances in technology and they won’t be the last. They will need to find some other way to EARN a living.

          1. Asak says:

            The problem is that technology will eventually reach the point where a small fraction of our population can grow all the food we make and create all of the goods we need with robots picking up much of the slack. At that point what do you do with all the rest? There won’t be any new way to make a living, they just won’t be needed.

            I would say universal basic income is inevitable, and maybe not basic either. You can’t just have half or more of your population idle and living in poverty.

            Of course the point where this happens is probably decades away still, but it’s the direction we seem to be headed. Human society will have to dramatically adapt if that future comes to pass.

          2. Nick says:

            The state of our country suggests we already waited *way* too long to implement UBI or the like.

            The right wing utopia of everyone “earning” a living toiling uselessly is showing more and more cracks as time goes on.

    2. tftf says:

      Tell me more about “no brainer” and “go electric” for

      a) long-range trucks

      b) current battery technology.

      Doesn’t add up at all.

      As for BEV in mid-range / urban trucks or commercial vans (where pure EVs with batteries actually make sense)?

      Already available from Volvo, Daimler, Renault-Nissan-Mitsu…

      1. Mikael says:

        Oh, it adds up… just wait and see.

      2. speculawyer says:

        It is not trivial. They need to figure out how they will recharge and/or battery swap. But if they figure that out then the high-torque and low-fuel cost of electric motors really do make it a no-brainer since fuel costs truck maintenance/repair are a HUGE costs in trucking.

        And if they get autonomous driving working…it is completely no-brainer. Driver, fuel, and maintenance are the big costs of trucking.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          If, as I think is becoming more and more clear, this is just a technology demo, a “concept” vehicle rather than anything Tesla plans to put into production, then it makes a lot more sense.

          Elon is trying to show what the future of trucking might look like. All those obstacles you mention will have to be dealt with eventually, but just showing off a couple of concept vehicles won’t require all that infrastructure to be built out ahead of time.

          1. speculawyer says:

            Yeah, you never know what will become real and what will not. But I’ve heard him talk about it and he sounded quite passionate about it. It is really a numbers game and if you cut those fuel costs, repairs, and maintenance, the EV semi-truck can really make sense.

      3. Nick says:

        Platoon driving will lower consumption in the trailing vehicles by roughly 10%.

    3. speculawyer says:

      Yes…it is quite the double-edged sword. Things will be much more efficient and safer. But the loss of jobs could be devastating. I think we are already seeing the problems that occur as we automate and offshore jobs. The opiate crisis and the rise of Trump seem to be results of lots of rural folk losing their jobs and being angry. They take their anger out on themselves and on immigrants.

  4. Kdawg says:

    I can’t wait to see this truck in Transformers 27.

    1. bro1999 says:

      Sadly, that will probably happen someday (Transformers 27 part at least).

      1. Scramjett says:

        The franchise that just refuses to die. That and Fast & Furious.

      2. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Too bad that “prime” name is already taken by Toyota Prius which is anything but “prime”.

  5. scottf200 says:

    Even TACC (aka adaptive cruise control) would be a fantastic advantage for truck drivers and all the cars around them. Automatic lane centering and following distance would make traveling around these trucks much more comfortable for many.

  6. Stephen Hodges says:

    The scriptwriters will have another whole genre!

  7. georgeS says:

    WSJ just ran the article but they seemed to put a little more emphasis on the platooning feature.

    The platooning feature would be a very logical first step. Perhaps you could get by with just one driver in the first truck with all the ones behind driverless.

    OT but I bet Tesla makes a custom trailer as well. Oh and announces a special cross country supercharging network just for semi’s.

    With free super charging.

    Their will be a line as long as model 3 for this new truck!!

    1. Mike says:

      Platooning is interesting because it is basically a virtual freight train where the cars are self propelled and virtually linked.

      The idea of putting a human in charge of the platoon sounds like the scary part. That just increases the fiasco associated with human error.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Maybe make the lead truck semi-autonomous (pun not intended)? So the truck does most of the work and the driver only intervenes in rare and specific circumstances with the trailing trucks following suit.

        Or maybe just ship long haul freight on an actual freight train instead.

  8. Nebula1701 says:

    the Driver will never go away. They may not drive as much with these new trucks but I bet they will still be present in the cab. Their job description may just change from driver to engineer. Where they are there to take control if the truck needs assistance. provide repair on equipment if needed and to secure the load in the back or provide security during stops.

    1. speculawyer says:

      The driver will DEFINITELY go away. Eventually. But who knows…it may still take another 15 to 25 years. Or more.

    2. Scramjett says:

      I agree. Even in Europe where the Eurostar is mostly automated, they still have drivers (engineers?) in the cab. This may be less important for freight, but I can’t imagine, in Europe at least, a situation where freight trains that are automated won’t have a couple of engineers to monitor the equipment and freight.

      Even here in the US, I just saw something about a new FRA rule requiring two man crews on freight trains.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Btw, I’m making a correlation between freight trucks and freight trains. Passenger trains in Europe have had some level of automation for years.

  9. speculawyer says:

    Since Tesla has a factory in Nevada that needs to regularly transport parts to a factory in Fremont, they are highly motivated to figure this thing out. Autonomous platoons of truck moving battery packs & powertrains from Sparks to Fremont would be a cost saver.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Using the rail line between Reno and Fremont would be an even bigger cost saver. The location of that railroad was one of the reasons Tesla gave for selecting the location.

      Seems strange to me they have not yet built out the planned spur rail line to connect the railroad to Gigafactory 1. I wonder what the holdup is?

      1. Asak says:

        It might just be cheaper to truck everything to the rail line, rather than building a spur. Everything probably just goes into a container that you can transfer from truck to train.

  10. Scramjett says:

    I hope these autonomous trucks won’t be programmed to drive at 61 mph and then pull out in front of automotive drivers on I5 while passing a truck in the right lane going 60 mph!

  11. Vexar says:

    So how will platoon automation work if there’s a safety concern and the lead vehicle has to swerve or stop suddenly? Stop suddenly, I get. Let’s hope all brakes and loads are created equally, huh? Swerve? Wow, that’s going to be a scene to behold. Can’t imagine how this will look in 8 lanes of traffic.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Perhaps you might have thought this scenario through before posting your concern.

      Presuming the trucks in the self-driving “platoon” are wirelessly communicating, then the following trucks will have more time than the lead truck did to react safely.

      So that would make the “platoon” as a whole safer, not — as you seem to be suggesting — more dangerous.

  12. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…testing of two prototype trucks…”

    Certainly goes along with my prediction that Tesla’s semi tractor BEV will be just a prototype (or two) for demonstration purposes, not something intended for production; not even limited production.

  13. Steve says:

    “Platooning mode”? Who thought of calling it that? Haven’t they heard of PigPen, Rubber Duck and Love Machine? It needs to be CONVOY mode. Mercy sakes alive!

    And hey, while your at it, add that mode to the rest of the Tesla models so we all can motor on down the highway more efficiently.

Leave a Reply