A collision in Florida in which a self-driving vehicle hit a tractor trailer making a turn at a highway intersection is being investigated by the U.S. government. The crash is the first in which a self-driving car has caused death.
The government is currently investigating Tesla’s auto-pilot system.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Tesla hit the semi truck when the truck was making a left turn on a divided highway intersection.
The Tesla was destroyed as everything below its windshield passed under the tractor, coming to a stop hundreds of feet further on.
The Tesla driver died of injuries from the crash, which happened May 7 in Williston, a city southwest of Gainesville, Florida.
According to Tesla, the car’s system did not notice the white side of the tractor-trailer against the sky. The driver didn’t notice, either, Tesla’s representatives said, and no one hit the brakes.
“The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer,” said Tesla.
Currently, the NHTSA is undertaking the process of easing self-driving vehicles onto U.S. roads, and Tesla has become famous as a front-runner in the production of popular self-driving vehicles.
The newest autonomous truck
Notice anything missing?
This is the Volvo Vera concept truck. Volvo trucks has been making headlines for the past couple years because of their autonomous and electric vehicles. They’ve gone a bit further with this latest entry into the commercial trucking concept market.
The Volvo Vera autonomous truck uses a lot of existing Volvo electric truck tech, including their 500 horsepower, 300kWh battery (with a 186 mile approximate range).
Without the trailer, the vehicle is even less recognizable, looking more like a powered dolly.
Will This 2,000 HP Electric Semi-Truck "Level the Playing Field" Between Owner Operators and Large Fleets?
According to the Nikola Motor Company, this 2,000 horsepower electric semi tractor will “even the playing field” between owner operators and large fleets.
Explaining the project, NMC founder Trevor Milton said that he wanted to try to help trucking owner-operators. His plans focus around building the Nikola Ona, a 2,000 horsepower, 3,700-plus ft. lbs. torque tractor that can travel around 1,200 miles (1,931 km) on a charge.
The 6X6 truck is capable of pulling a total gross of 80,000 pounds (36,287 kg) with its 335 horsepower motor and dual gear reduction at every wheel, according to NMC. The foot torque is around 86,000 after gear reduction.
“Torque is instant with an electric motor,” commented Milton. “There is a short window of RPM that you can get good torque from a diesel engine. The electric motor is basically providing 100 percent torque all the time.”
The truck is also lighter — around 2,000 pounds lighter — than regular diesels, according to Milton. This is because the batteries in the electric truck weight less than a diesel engine, and, of course, the truck doesn’t have a diesel engine, or transmission (there’s just an electric and a brake pedal), drive-train, and related weight.
The electric power system provides benefits to the environment, but it also means the designers can enlarge the cab and adjust its shape — in this case, making it more aerodynamic, which can translate into a quieter, more comfortable driving experience.
It will also have the first-ever independent suspension in the industry, thanks to a partnership with Meritor.
“By working together with some of the top engineering firms in America, we were able to design vehicles that have previously been thought impossible to design,” said Milton. “We want to even the playing field and income inequalities seen between owner operators and fleets for the first time in recent trucking history.
“This is just the beginning of what’s ahead for America, our company and the electric vehicle market.”
The cost of purchasing a Nikola One: $350,000 – $415,000. The cost of operating one: 20 – 30 cents per mile.
The company is taking pre-orders for a fully-refundable down payment of $1,500. The first 5,000 orders will also come with a “free fuel program,” in which drivers will get an “allowance of 100,000 gallons of compressed natural gas.”