Nikola EV trucks’ driver-assist system coming next year


Nikola Motor Company Two truck

Source: Nikola Motor Company

Nikola will begin offering an advanced driver-assist system on its electric heavy trucks starting late next year, the company said Wednesday.

The system, made by Plus and called PlusDrive, is similar to the highway driving systems offered by automakers including Tesla, General Motors and Ford Motor – while a human driver must be present and attentive, the system can handle most highway driving tasks on its own, in addition to assisting the human driver in non-highway situations including backing up to loading docks.  

Plus says its “autonomous driving technology offers the industry’s best-in-class perception system and deep learning models to quickly, accurately, and safely perceive the vehicle’s surroundings, predict what’s coming next, and control the vehicle to make its next move.”

But a Nikola representative told CNBC the system as it will be integrated into the company’s semitrucks is designed to be an “eyes-on-road, hands-on-wheel” system.

Nikola CEO Michael Lohscheller said in a release that the electric steering and braking systems already used in the company’s trucks will simplify the integration of Plus’ system, which includes radar, cameras and lidar sensors to detect obstacles around the truck.

Plus already provides the PlusDrive system to Italian heavy-truck maker Iveco, a longtime Nikola partner. Iveco began testing its own PlusDrive-enabled trucks earlier this month.

Nikola said that several of its fleet customers, including PGT Trucking and Christenson Transportation, have agreed to test prototype PlusDrive-enabled Nikola semitrucks. The company expects to begin offering PlusDrive on its regular production battery-electric and fuel cell trucks by the end of 2024.

Nikola is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter and full-year results before the U.S. markets open on Thursday.

Clarification: Plus’s advanced driver-assist system as integrated into Nikola’s semitrucks is designed to be an “eyes-on-road, hands-on-wheel” system, according to a company representative. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the functionality.




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