Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

Waymo To Test Its Fleet Of Fully-Autonomous Semis In Atlanta

Waymo To Test Its Fleet Of Fully-Autonomous Semis In Atlanta

Waymo is starting out small with this pilot test, using these semi trucks to carry cargo destined for Google's data centers. Human drivers will be on board Waymo trucks to take control if needed.

"This pilot, in partnership with Google's logistics team, will let us further develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals", the Waymo team said. Just like a regular driver who is moving from passenger cars to semi trucks for the first time, Waymo's AI has been learning the differences in driving a semi truck over the past year. As the company explains, the basic principles are the same but driving a semi is harder as the braking, turning radius and blind spots are completely different than on normal passenger cars. Earlier this year, Waymo announced that it would begin driving full-autonomous cars in Phoenix. Our self-driving trucks use the same suite of custom-built sensors that power our self-driving minivan. The software is also the same and it benefits from having driven five million miles on public roads and over five billion miles in simulations. 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. Another startup called Embark has been hauling real cargo with autonomous trucks (and a safety driver behind the wheel) since last fall.

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While the automotive industry is focused on self-driving cars, operating self-driving cars on city streets seems much more complicated than sending a truck down the highway without a driver. The company added that it believes that "self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger".

USA states set their own rules for roads, and a handful have passed laws allowing self-driving vehicles.

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Trucking is a vital part of the American economy.

Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition.

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