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Tesla seeking to test driver-free electric trucks on public roads

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Leaked correspondence with Nevada vehicle regulator reveal Elon Musk’s plans for fully autonomous electric freight

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.

The electric truck, which is due to be unveiled in September by Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, is close to prototype on-road testing, with both NevadaDepartment of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and California officials in talks to permit trials on public roads, according to documents seen by Reuters.

In an email to the Nevada DMV, Tesla sought permission 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”, which would be one of the first tests not including a human driver in the vehicle if permitted.

The correspondence and meetings with state officials show that Tesla moving forward in a highly competitive area of commercial transport also being pursued by Uber and Alphabet’s former Google car company, now called Waymo.

While Musk has previously stated aims to build an electric truck, Tesla has yet to announce any autonomous driving aims for the vehicles, which are seen as the next evolution of greener and safer road freight. 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.

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