- According to a Reuters report, Tesla is in talks with California and Nevada about testing the automaker's autonomous, electric semi-trucks.
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously announced that the company would unveil an electric truck in September, but didn't hint that it would be self-driving.
- Tesla is not the first to explore self-driving or fully electric trucks, but the automaker may have a competitive edge in the freight industry by developing trucks that are both autonomous and electric.
Tesla's latest project isn't completely new to the industry, but it does combine autonomy and sustainability — which other companies, so far, have pursued separately — and that may give Tesla a leg up in the brewing competition.
DHL, for example, already uses an entirely hybrid-electric trucking fleet in Manhattan, and plans to be fully electric in the next 30 years, while Google's parent Alphabet and Uber Technologies are pursuing self-driving trucks. Aware of the rapid innovation, the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee just passed a bill regulating autonomous vehicles and requiring automakers to submit safety reports to regulators.
Just last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $40 million to the city of Columbus, Ohio as the winner of its first-ever Smart City Challenge: and Columbus won with its self-driving cars initiative. Amazon, known for its drone initiative, is also researching self-driving tech, according to an earlier report from The Wall Street Journal.
The trend is clear: governments and private manufacturers see autonomous vehicles as the future of transit, and as self-driving vehicles infiltrate the trucking industry, they could drive down costs and increase efficiency for shippers, but put truck drivers and even carriers out of business. Businesses are seeking new ways to maximize effiency and minimize costs, and as the trend shows, that means moving away from human-driven cars and planes, especially within supply chains. Tesla certainly won't be the last to pursue autonomous tech for commercial purposes.