On the heels of releasing the first of its much-awaited s, Tesla motors is looking into a new arena: self-driving trucks. According to , the California-based car company is developing long-haul, electric semi trucks that can drive themselves and move in "platoons."
Reuters has seen email discussions of potential road tests being negotiated between the company, which for a was named the most profitable car company in America, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). California's DMV has also confirmed to the news agency that it and Tesla are in talks regarding autonomous trucking.
Trucking, with long stretches of straight highway and without many of the complications of urban driving, is often seen as an easier starting point for self-driving technology. Tesla's Autopilot feature can act as a driver assist, but that's a long way from founder Elon Musk's dream of allowing a driver to sleep through their journey.
Earlier this year at a TED interview, Musk described driving the company's semi-truck prototype. "You know," , "when I was driving the test prototype for the first truck, it's really weird because you're driving around and you're just you're so nimble and you're in this giant truck." Musk also stated that in the short term, Tesla's trucks would require a driver.
Tesla is far from the only company looking down this road. , including a subsidiary of Volkswagen, have platooned (connected fleets using Wi-Fi) over 1,000 miles. Daimler has driven self-driving trucks on . In America, has been partially self-driving since 2015. Members of the Central North American Trade Corridor Association (CNATCA) have . However, none of them have hit the road in any meaningful way yet. Just because Tesla has a late start in these trucks doesn't mean that it can't catch up soon.