The latest in automotive technology has long been driven by the need to keep pace with the changing nature of transport, but the latest news is that Tesla is launching its own electric car platform in 2017, the Tesla Semi.
It’s the same platform that Tesla has been using to launch Model S sedans, but it’ll be able to offer a range of all-electric models, as well as its first fully autonomous Tesla Model 3.
While it won’t be the first EV to use the Semi platform, it will be the biggest, as it’ll offer a wider range of pricing options and options for buyers.
Here’s everything you need to know about Tesla’s new Semi platform.
What is the Tesla Model S?
Tesla has been a pioneer in the development of self-driving technology, but there’s a huge gap between the company’s self-powered cars and its competitors.
The company’s flagship sedan, the Model S, is powered by a single electric motor and the entire system is fully autonomous.
The Model S’s top speed is claimed to be up to 170 km/h (110 mph), and it’s also claimed to have the lowest centre of gravity in a car.
But while that is impressive, Tesla is only able to reach those top speeds when it’s fully driving.
Tesla’s cars are able to travel up to 200 km/hr (125 mph) when the wheels are locked in, and that’s only if they’re locked into place.
In practice, though, the cars are only able do those numbers if they have no driver behind the wheel, as the Model X is the first car that has an electric motor mounted in the front seat, and it uses a rear-mounted battery pack to do so.
As such, the company can’t get much farther than that in terms of autonomous driving.
Tesla says its Semi platform will offer up to 300 km/hour (185 mph) in top speed, but this depends on how well the system works when driving with two people in the backseat, which is also what Tesla plans to do with the Model 3, and the company hasn’t made a clear commitment on this front yet.
Where does the Semi come from?
In 2016, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, claimed the company had “totally solved the self-park problem”.
Since then, the technology has evolved a lot, with Tesla now building its own proprietary autonomous system called Autopilot, which Musk described as “the most accurate system that humans have ever built”.
This system relies on radar, camera, radar-tracking sensors, and lasers, and is able to take control of a vehicle if there’s no driver present in the car, as opposed to a human controlling the vehicle remotely.
However, Tesla has also worked with partners to create systems to drive autonomously at the speed of sound, and there are other systems designed to drive at speeds over 100 km/hp (70 mph), which is much faster than the Tesla’s claimed top speed.
In addition, Tesla also recently revealed that it was working on a system that could autonomously cruise autonomously along highways, and a prototype was showcased at CES this year.
What does this mean for the future of electric vehicles?
This is Tesla’s third Semi platform in the last six months, and Tesla’s plans to develop a second, third and fourth one are a welcome development.
It could potentially provide an important stepping stone for Tesla as it tries to expand its self-drive capabilities, and its semi platform could provide a more affordable option for those buyers looking to get into the market, rather than a car with the best-of-breed performance and price tag.
However, Musk said last month that Tesla will focus its Semi technology on self-service and other technologies that will “allow us to deliver the world’s safest, most reliable, most affordable and safest vehicle”, so it’s hard to see the company becoming as big a player in the self drive space as it once did.