March 17, 2018

Waymo is testing self-driving trucks in Atlanta

10 March 2018, 06:30 | Megan Pierce

Waymo is testing self-driving trucks in Atlanta

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'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.

Now it will put the trucks into action delivering freight from Atlanta to data centers operated by its sister company, Google. Waymo and Google's logistics team are pairing up to tackle this together, and this pilot program is the culmination of one year of testing in California and Arizona.

Just days after ride-hailing service Uber announced it was testing tractor-trailers that drive themselves, Google's autonomous vehicle operation announced similar testing in Georgia. Earlier this year, Waymo announced that it would begin driving full-autonomous cars in Phoenix. Still, Waymo has other intrinsic advantages, including its parent company Alphabet which has unlimited resources to invest in the project.

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Waymo hasn't provided much detail about its driverless truck tech, but there's reason to believe it may be more advanced than what its competitors have developed so far. That's where Tesla, which recently unveiled its self-driving electric freight trucks, could have a leg up.

Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition. It said that the software is learning to drive trucks in the same way a human would after years of driving a auto. The company still has work to do, but starting with the industry-leading software in its minivans gives Waymo a significant head start. 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. However, truck drivers could eventually become a thing of the past as Waymo says "self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger" in the future.

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