Waymo Expanding Heavy-Duty Truck Self-Driving Technology Pilot to Georgia

by Susie Olson March 10, 2018, 1:48
Waymo Expanding Heavy-Duty Truck Self-Driving Technology Pilot to Georgia

These autonomous big rigs have been testing in both California and Arizona over the course of the past year, Waymo says, and now they're ready to roll in Georgia, too. "In short, our near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking". Beginning next week, Waymo's self-driving trucks will begin hauling cargo to Google's data centers.

It also explained that the move will help Waymo integrate its technology into shipping and carrying operations, factories, ports, distribution centers and terminals.

Alphabet's self-driving auto tech division, Waymo, has been making quite a bit of progress with their vehicles lately. Uber's transfer hub system is aimed at creating a short-term solution for the shortage of drivers and the high turnover.

Today's announcement comes a couple of weeks after Waymo announced its self-driving cars had covered 5 million miles on public roads. The company claims it was the first such feat.

Waymo's autonomous trucks will have the same sensors and software that are on the minivans it's operating autonomously in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Waymo also has a willing and huge test partner in Google. The added equipment is identical to that in Waymo's self-driving minivans.

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The firm chose Atlanta because it's one of the biggest logistics hubs in the USA, and Google's logistical operations also take place from there.

The trucks will conform to federal driving regulations. A safety driver in the truck will take over if anything goes wrong. "As our self-driving trucks hit the highways in the region, we will have highly-trained drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed", Waymo said in a blog post. Although the basic principles of driving remain the same, driving a truck that's loaded down with cargo is trickier due to its size and different ways of handling.

Still, Waymo said it's been able to make rapid progress because its trucking tech shares numerous same components developed for its self-driving minivan, including sensors and software. It wasn't clear that the company had already been testing it. It has been developing its autonomous vehicle technology for nearly a decade now.

Waymo believes self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and more efficient.

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