Skip to main content

Driverless trucks with humans onboard will be necessary, regulators say

Tesla logo
Driver not needed, but required. Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the world the company was going to develop the Tesla Semi in July. At the time, he surprisingly suggested the driverless vehicle would probably need a driver anyway, at least for a while, as reported by Electrek.

It was during the announcement of the Tesla master plan part deux, when Musk first talked about the truck. “We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”

More recently, according to Electrek, Musk told CNBC the first trucks will be used to gather data for regulators as well as add a level of safety. “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 said. “I think it’ll actually be a big safety improvement because you get a lot of accidents when drivers are tired behind the wheel.”

In time, after Tesla and federal regulations are assured Tesla Semis can drive themselves, human drivers will shift roles to become “fleet managers,” overseeing the operation of the truck while the self-driving system does the actual driving.

Tesla and Musk have already stated that all vehicles going forward will have the full suite of autonomous driving hardware. The software required for Level 5 autonomous driving, the highest level where human drivers are not required or potentially even accommodated for any driving condition, is expected to be ready for release near the end of 2017.

The Tesla Semi and Tesla Minibus are scheduled to be unveiled in three to six months, with production starting in two to three years. When the Tesla Semi does come to market, safety and lowered cargo transport costs are likely to have a greater impact on its success than being ‘fun to operate’ for former drivers.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
How to watch Elon Musk unveil the Tesla Cybertruck, a new electric pickup truck

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the much-anticipated Cybertruck electric pickup truck on Thursday evening in Los Angeles as the company pushes to break into a segment of the automobile market that's largely been ignored by electric carmakers. Here's everything you need to know about Tesla's Cybertruck launch.

Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s Cybertruck with strange looks and great performance

Read more
The Tesla Cybertruck, a cyberpunk electric pickup truck, coming Nov. 21
Tesla truck teaser

Tesla's long-promised electric pickup truck officially debuts on November 21 — but patent filings suggest its name has been under our nose all along. Tesla trademarked the Cybertruck and CYBRTRK nameplates, a strong hint that the truck will wear some variation of this term when Elon Musk reveals it to the world on November 21.

Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s Cybertruck with strange looks and great performance

Read more
2025 Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan gets new face, bigger battery
2025 Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan front-quarter view.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan arrived during the 2022 model year as the flagship of Mercedes' EV fleet. But now that it's been on sale for a few years, it's time for this flagship to get a refit so that it can stay competitive with other six-figure electric sedans like the BMW i7, Lucid Air, and Tesla Model S. The updated EQS sedan is scheduled to reach dealerships later this year as a 2025 model.

One of the most controversial features of the EQS has been its unorthodox streamlined shape, which makes the EQS one of the most aerodynamic sedans around, but also means it doesn't look much like a traditional Mercedes. For 2025, the EQS takes a step closer to that traditional look with a new grille featuring chrome bars like on the Mercedes S-Class. It also sports the brand's trademark hood ornament.

Read more