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posted by martyb on Thursday August 10 2017, @06:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the semileaks dept.

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2017/08/reuters-tesla-looking-to-start-testing-autonomous-semi-in-platoon-formation/

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in April that the company is working on pushing a long-haul electric semi truck to market, which is set to be formally revealed in September. Now, Reuters has viewed e-mail correspondence between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles that indicate that the company has discussed testing semi trucks on the state's roads.

The Reuters report also mentioned that the semis would be outfitted with autonomous functions, so they could traverse the nation's highways without a driver in the front seat. The e-mails seemed to indicate that Tesla's semis would "platoon," that is, drive in a formation such that a number of trucks could follow a lead vehicle. It's unclear whether the lead vehicle would have a driver, or operate autonomously with a person in the front seat to monitor safety.

[...] Reuters also reported that California DMV officials will meet with Tesla this week "to talk about Tesla's efforts with autonomous trucks."


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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday August 11 2017, @01:00AM (2 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday August 11 2017, @01:00AM (#551992)

    Arguably, the incapacity of the trucks to properly handle an A380 doing an emergency landing on a highway is a good reason to avoid automating trucks.

    Weird shit happens. If someone drops a bridge support in the middle of the road, or an on-coming truck swerves in the way, maybe you do want a train of driverless trucks to get mangled, rather than the current solution of losing a train of driven trucks.

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  • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Friday August 11 2017, @01:58PM (1 child)

    by fyngyrz (6567) on Friday August 11 2017, @01:58PM (#552270) Journal

    If someone drops a bridge support in the middle of the road, or an on-coming truck swerves in the way, maybe you do want a train of driverless trucks to get mangled, rather than the current solution of losing a train of driven trucks.

    Nah, you just don't want them drafting or otherwise following too closely. With proper following distances, only the first truck will crash. That's why we're taught about proper following distances.

    Mind you, the majority of the drivers I've observed out east and on the west coast ignore the entire idea of proper following distances, but hey, that's just evolution in action: taking themselves out of the reproduction and/or support chain.

    The premise of the convoy following at distances adequate to save fuel is bankrupt based on safety concerns. Any such behavior is inherently unsafe.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday August 11 2017, @04:14PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday August 11 2017, @04:14PM (#552397)

      Except that it's not, because saying the second automatic truck will crash is the same logic as saying that the second half of the first trailer will crash (or the second trailer on current dual-trailer setups), so it should be in a different truck.
      Pushing that logic, the only logical setup is a bunch of automatic cars, carrying tiny payloads, and following each other with hundreds of yards of spacing.
      Those Australian coal train-trucks with 5 or 7 trailers? Can't have that, we' could lose more than one payload in a crash!
      Trains? forget it, those lose dozens of cars in a crash!

      As I said already, if you network them and put the longest-braking in front, your odds of more than one crashing are low enough, and the gains of having only one guy at the front (or two, for non-stop, and eventually zero) will make it a compelling solution for the fleet operators.