Tesla representatives have reportedly been in talks with relevant authorities in California and Nevada about the possibility of testing self-driving trucks. A spokesperson for the California Department of Motor Vehicles stated that the department met up with Tesla on Wednesday, and that the agency is working closely with the California Highway Patrol to regulate the testing of autonomous vehicles above 10,000 pounds. Current laws prevent autonomous tests over this weight limit, which prevents tests of self-driving semi trucks and other roadway freight vehicles. A spokesman for Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed that Tesla's people did talk with the department, but Tesla did not register an autonomous testing license or even fill out an application at that time.
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk hinted at this development back in April, though he was not specific as to where testing may end up taking place. Musk took to his Twitter account, commending the company's autonomous truck team on their excellent work. Musk had also previously stated that the plan was to officially unveil the company's autonomous truck in September, and that presumably still stands. Since the company is apparently only in preliminary talks with the two states' authorities on testing self-driving trucks, it is quite possible that the first test of the company's autonomous truck will be its public unveiling.
Tesla has been working on full automation for vehicles for some time, but the company has yet to mention publicly whether the trucks that it is talking about outing in the near future will be fully autonomous, or if they will take after the company's existing lineup of consumer vehicles and boast only conditional self-driving capabilities. Dubbed "Autopilot," the existing Tesla system is capable of a number of driving tasks, and can automate long-haul highway driving due to its fairly monotonous nature. As has been proven by a fatal accident, however, this system is not perfect, and when it asks the driver to regain control of the vehicle, not doing so could have dire consequences. Presumably, Tesla's trucks will follow along largely the same lines, allowing long-haul truckers to take a break along stretches of their route that would usually keep them awake close to or even beyond lawful sleep time quotas, but not able to guarantee full autonomy at all times, or handle complicated and delicate in-city driving.