Tesla will officially unveil and test its electric semi truck on October 26 in Hawthorne, CA, according to recent tweet from CEO Elon Musk. The truck, which was first tweeted about in April and then teased during a TED talk Musk gave in early May, could have massive implications for the trucking industry.
Musk seems to be happy with the way the truck turned out as well. In the tweet he called the truck a "beast," writing that it's "unreal" and worth seeing in person.
During his May TED talk, Musk spoke of the power of the electric truck. He noted that the flat torque RPM curve of the electric motor could help it seriously out-perform traditional trucks with diesel engines. He called it "spry" and said could be drive "like a sports car."
SEE: Elon Musk releases teaser image of Tesla semi truck (ZDNet)
"They think the truck doesn't have enough power or it doesn't have enough range, and then with the Tesla Semi we want to show that no, an electric truck actually can out-torque any diesel semi," Musk said in the talk. "And if you had a tug-of-war competition, the Tesla Semi will tug the diesel semi uphill."
While the electric motor has been confirmed, the question of whether or not the truck will have autonomous or semi-autonomous capabilities is still up in the air. In Musk's TED talk he initially said that the truck wouldn't have any autonomous or driverless features.
In August, though, a Reuter's report detailed an email exchange between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about possible road tests for an autonomous truck. In the emails, it was noted that the Tesla truck would be semi-autonomous and able to operate in platoons behind a lead truck.
Platooning is seen by some as a major forerunner to full autonomy. The UK government, for example, just greenlit semi-autonomous truck platoon trials for 2018.
One of Tesla's main Silicon Valley competitors in trucking is Uber. After its acquisition of self-driving company Otto, Uber has been showing off its own work on Lidar-enabled autonomous trucks. Although, other major automakers like Volvo and Mercedes are working on their own self-driving trucks too. Daimler has also unveiled its electric trucks, and already has UPS on the line as a buyer.
The implications for both electric and autonomous semi trucks are huge. The truck manufacturers, the drivers, and the energy providers all risk being disrupted in one way or another as these technologies move mainstream.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the firm's electric semi truck would be unveiled and tested on October 26 in Hawthorne, CA.
- Musk had previously claimed that the truck wouldn't have autonomous capabilities, but a recent email exchange with the Nevada DMV points to road tests for that technology.
- Uber, Volvo, Mercedes, and more are all working on autonomous trucks, which could majorly disrupt the trucking industry in multiple ways.
- IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)
- Elon Musk and the cult of Tesla: How a tech startup rattled the auto industry to its core (TechRepublic)
- Musk's photo of Tesla Semi gives peek at three-tiered disruption of trucking (TechRepublic)
- Tesla's first mass-market Model 3 electric cars are about to hit the road (ZDNet)
- Our autonomous future: How driverless cars will be the first robots we learn to trust (PDF download) (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.