Waymo to Pilot Autonomous Big Rigs in Atlanta

Andre KleinMar 10, 2018

Waymo is starting out small with this pilot test, using these semi trucks to carry cargo destined for Google's data centers.

Waymo has been testing its autonomous tractor-trailers on roads in California and Arizona since past year. Even though most of those miles were for passenger vehicles, the firm says almost a decade of experience gives it a head start in trucking. Atlanta is one of the biggest logistics hubs in the country, making it a natural home for Google's logistical operations and the ideal environment for our next phase of testing Waymo's self-driving trucks. Waymo says its autonomous vehicles have driven 5 million miles. Waymo also has a willing and huge test partner in Google.

Rival Uber made a similar announcement on Tuesday, saying it is using self-driving semi trucks to augment human-driven rigs in its on-demand trucking service in the USA state of Arizona.

The trucks will conform to federal driving regulations.

Waymo, however, is limiting the self-driving trucks to local routes rather than the type of long hauls where the driving limits are most likely to come into play for the human in the cab supervising the robotic controls. While numerous basic principles of a self-driving semi-truck are similar with passenger vehicles like the Lexus RX 450h and Chrysler Pacifica vehicles that Waymo typically uses, considerations have to be made for "braking, turning, and blind spots" with the fully-loaded weight of such a vehicle, and its huge size.

This news comes after Uber revealed its own autonomous trucking progress earlier this week, and after startup Embark reported a cross-country trip of its own test platform earlier this year.

Waymo for years has been testing self-driving cars, racing against smartphone-summoned ride star Uber, whose trucking service uses humans to pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs.

However, it isn't just minivans that have gotten the Waymo treatment.

Waymo's mission has always been to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.

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