Is this the end of the truck driver?
Elon Musk, the head of the American electric car brand Tesla, tweeted over the Easter long weekend that the company is preparing to reveal its next model – a prime mover. The company had already announced its plans to expand its electric and autonomous technology into the trucking industry but Musk revealed it is coming sooner than expected.
In a tweet dated April 14 (NZT) Musk wrote: “Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.”
The Tesla semi is believed to incorporate the brand’s knowledge in “Autopilot” autonomous technology in order to reduce operating costs for fleets and attempt to improve safety. The program is reportedly headed by Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle programs, who not only worked on the Model S but previously was involved in Daimler’s heavy truck business.
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Musk believes bringing its Autopilot technology into the trucking sector could improve safety by cutting the reliance on human drivers. In an interview with CNBC in 2016 Musk hinted that Autopilot would play a major role in the Tesla semi but acknowledged a driver will still be required for at least the short-term future.
“I think it’ll actually be a big safety improvement because you get a lot of accidents when drivers are tired behind the wheel,” Musk told CNBC.
“It’ll be a few years after trucks can self drive before regulators have seen enough data to feel comfortable not having a driver in the car.”
Musk also revealed more details about the brand’s following model – an electric pick-up truck. When asked by another user when the pick-up would launch Musk replied it would be revealed in the next “18 to 24 months.”
He also confirmed that the brand’s long-awaited replacement for its first model, the Roadster, is still on track and would remain a convertible, giving the brand a sportier and stylish option compared to its five-door Model S, Model 3 and Model X.